What are these red things crawling on my skin?

I write most of my posts at night but this is a topic I could not deal with before going to bed. Bedbugs are all over the news these days. The reason being that, after about 40 years of absence, they are back to haunt us and bite us. New York City has been at the epicentre of the recent bedbug outbreak with hotels, high-street stores, hospital wards and even Google headquarters being affected. So now people are asking questions: why are they back and how can we kill them (without killing ourselves)? Bedbugs are a mystery. Unlike so many other bugs, they do not transmit disease. Scientists have even tried hard to make them do so but failed in most cases. (Apparently, researchers in South Africa fed AIDS-infected blood to bedbugs but the virus died.) Because the bugs are clean and didn’t bother us for a long time, research funding was directed to other areas. That is why there are not that many “bedbugs experts” out there. And that is why we don’t know how to make them stop crawling on our skin and how to put an end to the bloodsucking. We do know what killed them back in the 70s, but the chemical DDT is not exactly environmentally safe so it was banned for public health’s sake. To make things worse, the new bedbugs are even more resistant to pesticides than the ones we knew before. I suppose all we can do is wait for hard-at-work researchers and government authorities to find a solution to this problem. Until then, “Night, night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite…”.

photo: Allen Brisson-Smith, The New York Times Company

(Bummer, I’m all itchy now.)
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