An investigation into the locomotion of bed bugs – the urban nightmare.
Even the mention of bed bugs is enough to scare any urban apartment dweller. Having the notorious biting bugs in an apartment or hotel can cause panic and headaches.
Although bed bugs are largely unknown in South Africa, they do pop up in hotels and hostels from time to time. In 2009 a hostel in Cape Town was the subject of a bed bug infestation. Since that incident, no outbreak reports have hit mainstream media.
Now, a new study from the University of Sheffield finally nails down what allows them to travel: dirty laundry.
The research about traveling bed bugs:
William Hentley of the university’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences ran experiments in two identical, temperature-controlled rooms. His team then put two bags of laundry in each, one with clean t-shirts and socks and the other dirty. Without any people around, the bugs were twice as likely to gravitate towards the dirty laundry.
What really made the difference was the residual human odour. So if your dirty clothes are trapped away inside some luggage, you’ll be safe. Only when they’re open for extended periods of time are they a bedbug magnet.
“Our study suggests,” Hentley says in a press statement, “that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them, which may reduce the spread of infestations.”
Could South Africa’s largest bed bug outbreak in recent memory be because of traveling bugs? We can only speculate.