"I had been a professor of entomology for 15 years before I saw my first live bedbug," says May Berenbaum in The New York Times. Thanks to synthetic organic pesticides, the pests, universally detested a century ago, had been all-but wiped out in North America by the mid-1900s. But my first bedbug, mailed to me in 1995 "by a distraught student in the Boston area who had no idea what it was," turned out to be a harbinger of doom. Riding unseen in the suitcases of global travelers, bedbugs have returned to all 50 states, "and bedbug-related calls to pest control operators are escalating at a fantastic rate." Today's bedbugs, immune to once-effective poisons and harder to exterminate, are uniting Americans in a hatred as powerful as that their ancestors endured, says Berenbaum. Here, an excerpt:
We reserve a special kind of enmity for bedbugs because, though humans generally do not like being anywhere other than at the pinnacle of a food chain, there is a particular horror associated with being consumed while relatively helpless, asleep in what should be the security of one’s own bed (or chair or couch). With bedbugs, it’s personal — unlike cockroaches, ants, silverfish and other vermin that are attracted to our possessions, bedbugs are after us. And they’re remarkably adept at circumventing our defenses: They not only attack while we sleep, but they also inject anesthetics, so as not to awaken us, and anticoagulants, so that in every 10-minute feeding they can suck in two to three times their weight in clot-free blood. ...
Perhaps the one good thing about bedbugs is that they provide a rare point of agreement that transcends race, religion, culture, nationality, tax bracket and party. It may be one of the few remaining universal truths — urban or rural, red state or blue, everyone agrees it would be great if bedbugs would disappear once more.
Read the full article at The New York Times.
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