NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t


The bedbug is sometimes called the “perfect parasite.” “They bite you while you’re sleeping and the bites are painless,” explains entomologist Michael Potter. Potter, who works at the University of Kentucky and specializes in pest management, says there are several reasons bedbugs are more insidious than other parasites such as lice, fleas and ticks. “Bedbugs don’t stay on the host — they scurry away to their hidden harborages that are far from obvious,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “And then on top of all of that, people react to bedbug bites differently. Some don’t react at all; others’ reactions are delayed until days or weeks later. So it’s a very efficient critter from the standpoint of doing its business and creating a lot of anxiety in terms of what’s happening.” Bedbugs are more likely to inhabit a bed than anywhere else because, as Michael Potter says, “Why crawl further than you have to for your next meal?” Bedbugs are more likely to inhabit a bed than anywhere else because, as Michael Potter says, “Why crawl further than you have to for your next meal?” What’s happening when a bedbug bites a person is tricky, he explains, because initially a human may not even realize he or she has been bitten. “They inject both an anti-coagulant, which allows a bedbug to extract blood from a human, and also a sort of anesthetizing agent, which allows the bite to be painless,” Potter explains. “That’s a good survival mechanism because if you woke up and felt the pain, not too many bedbugs would survive to feed another day.” Potter says that not only have bedbugs survived, they’ve thrived. In recent years, the tiny critters have moved beyond homes and hotels — affecting many different types of facilities, including college dormitories, homeless shelters, nursing homes, office buildings, hospitals, schools and day cares, movie theaters, modes of transportation, laundromats, retail stores, libraries and camps. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Bloodsucking bedbugs are biting in New York, and Philadelphia, and all over Ohio. The pest control company Terminix released Tuesday a list of the 15 most bedbug-infested cities, based on an analysis of call volume reporting bedbug infestations and of confirmed bedbug cases reported by sales professionals in 350 of the company’s service centers. The Big Apple topped the list, followed by Philly and Detroit. Ohio has four cities in the top 15 , Cincinnati is fourth, Columbus is seventh, Dayton is eighth and Cleveland is 14th. Bedbugs can be found in mattresses, furniture and clothing, and they feed off animal and human blood. Insect scientists say bedbugs are showing up on a scale not seen since before World War II, due to the rise in international travel and the elimination of certain chemicals once used to fight them. MORE


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