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by Alliance Environmental · December 19, 2011

Bed Bug News: Body Hair Can Help Slow Down Bed Bugs

A recent study done in the UK by scientists at the University of Sheffield and reported in Biology Letters, a peer-reviewed scientific publication, has found evidence that those little hairs discourage insects from biting.

The Experiment

The question they were trying to answer was whether fine human body hair provides protection from parasites that live on the surface of the skin, known as “ectoparasites.”  Bed bugs are a perfect example of an ectoparasite in humans. 

Did you know that humans have the same number of hair follicles as other apes?  We do, but of course the hair is much finer.  The scientists were trying to determine whether the fine hair on our bodies provides any evolutionary advantage. 

The British scientists tested two basic premises:

1. Does body hair make it take longer for a bed bug to decide where to bite?

2. Does body hair make it easier for a person to detect when they are being bitten by a bed bug?

The research subjects were recruited through Facebook and had one arm shaved and the other arm left unshaven.  An area was marked out on their arms using Vaseline, which prevents the bugs from escaping the test area and five female bed bugs which had not fed for a week were placed on one of the subject’s arms for five minutes. 

The experiment was repeated a week later using the subject’s other arm and the same 5 bed bugs.

The Results

Bed bugs took significantly longer to choose a bite location on hairy arms of men, but not women.  The more hair, the longer they took.  And both men and women reported feeling more activity on their hairy arms than their shaved arms.  The scientists interpreted their results to determine that fine body hair makes bed bugs take longer to choose a bite site and also helps people to detect a bed bug on their body.  There might be a balance however, between improved detection and giving bed bugs better hiding places in body hair.

This might be an evolutionary reason for all humans having the fine body hair, but thick hair all over the body has disappeared through evolutionary changes.

So all that tiny hair has at least one good reason for being there!

If you are getting bitten by bed bugs, slowly or quickly, call in a professional to eliminate them, eggs, nymphs and adults in one treatment with ThermaPureHeat.  Heat treatment is the only eradication method known to kill all stages of bed bugs at once, without dangerous chemicals, bagging food, washing linens or worrying about retreatment later.

Alliance Environmental Group offers ThermaPureHeat treatment for bed bugs and other pests throughout California, including from our new office in AnaheimContact us for help if you have or suspect a bed bug infestation. We also treat toxic mold, remove lead paint and eliminate asbestos from homes and commercial buildings safely and quickly.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Alliance Environmental Group!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for Alliance Environmental Group and AirTek Indoor Air Solutions.  She welcomes your comments!  For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!  For updates on indoor air challenges, Like us at AirTek on Facebook!

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