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One advantage of going to sleep drunk: The bed bugs leave you alone

By Rob Cypher, Jun 3, 2012 | Updated: Jun 3, 2012 | |
  1. Rob Cypher
    The more drunk you are, the less inclined bugs are to drink your blood - and they lay less eggs

    Going to bed with a few drinks inside you may have one unexpected benefit - it stops bed bugs biting you.
    Instead, they much prefer the blood of a sober sleeper, and if the little bugs - and, be warned, the most common one, Cimex lectulariu, can grow up to four millimetres in length - cannot get a good feed, they lay fewer eggs.

    PhD candidate Ralph Narain presented his findings to the National Conference on Urban Entomology in Atlanta last week, after a controlled experiment involving 20 of the bugs.

    For a university experiment involving alcohol, Narain's experiment involved little drinking - perhaps because volunteers turned it down when they heard the true nature of the experiments.

    Instead, Narain mixed varying amounts of alcohol into blood samples, ranging in strength from zero to 0.010, 0.025, 0.050 and 0.100 BACS - or blood alcohol concentration. [0.08 is the legal driving limit in many states of America.]

    Narain weighed 20 bugs before introducing them to the blood feast, and then weighed them again later. He then repeated the experiment six times.

    He found that bugs which had 'clean' blood to drink increased their mass by 100 per cent. Yet when they fed on the lowest alcohol amount - 0.010 BAC - their mass increased just 60 per cent. When the bugs fed on .100 BAC alcohol, they gained a measly 12.5 per cent.

    In terms of reproduction, the 'clean' bugs would lay an average of 44 eggs after gorging themselves, leading to a potentially sapping night for sober sleepers, whereas bugs which had the strongest alcoholic intake would lay an average of just 12 eggs.

    Narain is planning to look at the effect of other drugs or narcotics on the feeding and reproduction cycle of bed bugs. He said: '[Bed bugs] need a blood meal to grow and to molt and to reproduce. And one of their main hosts are humans, and we consume a lot of stuff. Alcohol was one of the easier ones to start with.'

    As a note of caution, he added:'I'm not going to suggest someone should consume alcohol to control bed bugs.' He also added that while the bed bugs eat and reproduce less, they still do lay eggs - and 95 per cent of them do hatch.

    Entomologist Dini Miller told the Huffington Post: 'I don't know what sort of implications it has ultimately, because unfortunately they still produce enough eggs to cause an infestation. So while they feed less, still, we're not going to experience less of a problem. But it's very interesting to know.'



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