Tag Archives: Bed Bug Facts

Are Bedbugs Poised to Become Their Own Species? Some Scientists Say Yes

Bed Bugs
Bed Bugs

Bedbugs usually cause feelings of dread among people, but for scientists, they serve as a source of fascination. Researchers have discovered that bedbugs are likely to evolve into a new species.

Bedbug Origins

Bedbugs didn’t start out as pests that feed on human blood. Instead, they first fed on the blood of bats found in caves. As humans started making their homes in caves, bedbugs began feeding on them.

When humans started building homes, some bedbugs stayed among them. Over the years, these bedbugs have developed physical traits that are different from bedbugs that feed exclusively on bats.

Bedbug Variations

Bedbugs that feed on human blood have legs that are thinner and longer than the legs of those that feed on bat blood. Since these bedbugs don’t have to hold onto bats hanging upside down in caves, they don’t need short, strong legs.

Bedbugs that feed on human blood have also developed a resistance to pesticides, unlike those that feed on bat blood. However, they also have their limitations. They live for a shorter amount of time if they only feed on bat blood, since their systems have adapted to feeding on human blood.

Scientists believe that bedbugs that feed on human blood will eventually become their own species if they continue developing different physical traits.

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Bed Bugs Over the Centuries

Bed Bugs
Bed Bugs

Throughout recorded history, bed bugs have plagued mankind. The worst epidemics have come in the last hundred years, though, with these biting pests only now hitting their peak.

Some perspective on the history of bed bugs:

1500 BC: The oldest known fossils of bed bugs existed at this time.

386 BC: Ancient Greek plays by Aristophanes first mention bed bugs in writing.

77 AD: Roman philosopher Pliny writes about using bed bugs for medicinal purposes, similar to leeching.

600 AD: Bed bugs spread to China. However, they are not yet common throughout all of Europe.

1600: England gets bed bugs. Pilgrims immediately bring them to the Americas.

1900: Virtually every US home sees bed bugs at some point, and about one third of households endure an infestation.

1950: The phrase “don’t let the bed bugs bite” gets added to the expression, “good night, sleep tight.”

1950s: People discover that the powerful insecticide DDT works wonders for killing bed bugs. Unfortunately, it turned out DDT is too dangerous to be an effective solution.

1995: Bed bugs begin making a resurgence, with hotel infestations becoming common.

2010: Epidemics hit New York City and other metropolitan areas, kicking off a new era of widespread infestations.

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