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BED BUG TRIVIA

Stephen Doggett from the Department of Medical Entomology, Westmead Hospital shares some interesting trivia about bed bugs.

In the late 1890s a traveller in the US was writing his name in the hotel register when a bed bug appeared. He stated that, “I’ll be darned if I was ever in a place before where bed bugs crawled over the hotel register to find out where your room was!”

In the early 1900s bed bugs were so common on country Australian trains, that the railway authorities had a bed bug apology form letter.

In 1933, a wealthy businessman in New York filed for divorce as he found bed bugs in his bed. He lost his court case – but naturally it was his wife’s fault!

During WWII, prisoners of war had portions of their liver removed to develop a bed bug poison.

Bed bugs as torture weapons. During the infamous years of the Gulags in the former USSR, a coffin was filled with bed bugs into which the victim was placed.

In 1951, the State of Maryland (USA) taxed professional hotel bed bug hunters by making them take out a licence. This made considerable money for the state.

During the early 1970s it was noticed that bed bug infestations increased after continual spraying of DDT for anti-malarial campaigns. Perhaps this provides an insight into the origins of modern resistant bed bugs? Interestingly, as revealed in a recent bed bug book by Brooke Borel (called Infested), Western scientists blame Eastern Europe for the origins of modern bed bugs, while Eastern European scientists blame the West!

During the 1930s, there was a religious sect in Tokyo who treated bed bugs (and other insects) as gods – perhaps they should be called ‘entomologists’!