Taking one for the team
The university research team, that is. From Pacific Standard.
Every Saturday Morning, Regine Gries drives nearly 10 miles from her home in Coquitlam, near Vancouver, British Columbia, to the insectary at Simon Fraser University. She sits down at a long workbench, rolls up her sleeves, and carefully presses five mesh-topped jars of bedbugs against her forearms. She listens to music while the insects bite her through the mesh. After about 10 minutes, the bedbugs, full of Regine’s blood, begin to retreat. Regine wipes her arm with isopropyl alcohol, and puts the jars back on the shelf.
For the past eight years, Regine and her husband, Gerhard, a biology professor at Simon Fraser, have competed with research labs around the world to identify pheromones that attract bedbugs in the hope of developing a commercial lure. A 2010 survey by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky found that bedbug populations have nearly tripled in the past decade in the United States, and yet there haven’t been many advances for controlling and eradicating the pests. Most methods involve using a mix of pesticides and insecticides. (There has also been a lot of confusion about the pests: Last year, the Grieses conducted experiments in nearby apartment buildings, and discovered one tenant who complained of bedbug bites yet had no signs of an infestation—but who did sleep with the window open in a mosquito-friendly part of town.)