The bad news is that a variety of bedbug not seen in Florida in 60 years is back. The good news is the University of Florida is on the case.
Like its cousin the “common bedbug,” the tropical bed bug under investigation by UF researchers will drain your blood — and your bank account. The difference is, the tropical bedbug can do it faster.
Doctoral candidate Brittany Campbell and her colleagues at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have taken to the peer-reviewed journals and any news organizations which will listen, to spread the scary news about the return of a nasty brand of bedbug that could “… develop more quickly, possibly cause an infestation problem sooner, and also could spread more rapidly.”
Like Zika, the story starts small. Patient Zero is a family in Merritt Island whose home was overrun in 2015. UF’s entomologists can’t pinpoint the bedbugs’ point of entry, but the list of suspects includes nearby Port Canaveral. Ports are great engines of globalization, and, since ancient times, a great way to spread all manner of pestilence.
The creepy crawlies are formidable opponents, but we rarely think of them until they are, literally, sucking our blood. Previous generations have fought back with high-powered pesticides. It seemed like a good idea, until the cancers and birth defects began to show up.
This Veterans Day weekend, UF researchers are in their labs, seeking safer weapons of war against bedbugs, mosquitoes, and fellow-traveling forms of vermin. Let’s thank them for their service.