Bed Bugs

Entomophile Andrew Scott joins us to talk about Cimex lectularius including a science quiz, traumatic extravaginal insemination, old timey bed bug treatments, plus news, pop culture and tips on how to avoid bed bug infestation at home and when traveling.

Music: “Mean Old Bed Bug Blues” by The Rhythmakers




21 Responses

  1. 72 degrees sauna? That’s not very hot, Kevin.
    A normal sauna temperature is about 80-90 C.
    I am scandinavian though, so it might be a cultural difference.

    1. I think the term they’re looking for is “formication”. I think Dr. Rob actually mentioned it in passing in the Cocaine episode, shortly after the coke bugs were mentioned.

  2. This episode was more repulsive than most because we are all likely to encounter bed bugs in our normal life at some time. I have no reason to fear shark attack if I don’t go into the ocean but a bed bug could be lurking in any upholstered item I come into contact with; they could be lurking in a chair at my favorite coffee shop or bar.

    I thought bed bugs ate dead skin cells and therefore served some useful ecological niche. There goes another faulty assumption out the window.

    Did anything positive show up in the research? Do bed bugs fill some ecological niche or are they 100% useless blood sucking irritants?

    1. You are getting dust mites and bedbugs confused. One is disgusting and about the size of an appleseed, the other is disgusting and microscopic.

    1. Oh, hey. I was beaten to the punch. Teaches me to read the full comment thread before replying. Good work there, nowoo!

  3. Great show as always – a mixture of horror and laughs.

    I must take one issue with what Andrew said though regarding human penile adaptation. While it is true that the human penis varies quite dramatically from that of our nearest primate relatives, the reason for penile morphology being the way it is is far from certain. For example, the hypothesis that the human glans acts as a “scoop” to remove competing sperm is based on a number of experimental findings wherein synthetic phalluses (dildos) with and without heads were compared as to the efficacy of removing synthetic semen. The keen observer would recognize that in all these cases the anatomically “correct” penis resembled that of a circumcised penis rather than an intact one with moving foreskin. Given that in an intact penis the foreskin is free to move over the glans during coitus effectively occluding the coronal ridge, it is not readily apparent how this sperm-scoop adaptation could have arisen in our ancestors. Moreover, since circumcision globally is a relatively rare cultural phenomenon ( < 20% of world male population), one cannot see how this feature would have been selected for in a minority of the population.

    As an aside, our chimp relatives who have very little in the way of a protruding glans are very promiscuous yet lack the presumed sperm-scooping adaptation.

  4. Could not get the opening scene of A Scanner Darkly out of head for this entire episode (I don’t know if the guy had bedbugs or some other bugs but it was a pretty visceral scene).

    I’m guessing the bad smell the bugs make when crushed is the Formic acid, if they’re anything like ants.

    Also, I wonder how prevalent bedbugs are in Australia. I’m mid thirties now and the only instance of bedbugs I’ve ever heard of was in a single bed in a dormitory at boarding school. I’ve literally never heard anyone refer to them since (except for you guys).

    I’ll definitely check out these Green Porno vids now – funnily enough someone mentioned them to a couple of weeks ago.

    Well done, guys. 🙂

    1. until very recently, they’ve been rather rare. My boss has been in pest control for 30 years, and until the last few years he’d never even seen one. Of course, now that the control of other household pests has switched to more targeted insecticides, and bed-bugs have had decades to evolve resistance to the general pesticides, the bed-bugs have bounced back.

  5. Concrete Hymen sounds like a band I’d go see.

    Also, I hope that’s what you said during the episode, I haven’t had enough caffeine yet this morning, and if I just thought I heard you say that, it might be time to up my dosage.

  6. It should come as no surprise that I am a big fan of your podcast. Another great, but creepy, episode.

    Toren, I have to say that I have never heard a better bible reader than you! I had shivers down my spine and, for a moment, almost wished I believed in God. That was epic!!! Also, you referring to the bible as “pop culture” was awesome. Of course, the story was absolutely ridiculous. Don’t you think the miracle would be getting rid of bed bugs, not evicting them for a few hours from some crappy shack?

  7. Decided to stop procrastinating and listen to this episode at work, my coworkers kept asking if I was ok , between the sounds of horror, disgust, laughing and constant itching I can’t blame them. Congrats, you’ve outdone Self Surgery.

  8. I’m surprised you didn’t mention that the *males* have false genitalia too, to reduce the damage from being traumatically inseminated by other males. They’re not too fussed about which species they stab with their razor-sharp penises either – anything roughly the right size will do.

  9. Gen Con moved from Milwaukee to Indianapolis in 2004 (as well as a few other cities, but the main one was in Indiana). Kind of a shame, because Milwaukee has a lot of interesting micro-breweries to visit.

  10. Diatomaceaous earth is also used as filter aid in chemistry labs. In my two years working in a synthetic organic lab it was one of my favorite substances because of its textures. It is a very fine powder. It kind if feels like those sand filled stress balls that sort of keep their shape when you squeeze them. Didn’t know it was carcinogenic though. Luckily we followed propper safety protocol and only used it in a fume hood.