Quote of the moment: DDT causing bed bug problems, Malcolm Gladwell

English: ID#: 11739 Description: This digitall...

This digitally-colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed on the ventral surface of a bedbug, Cimex lectularius. From this view you can see the insect’s skin piercing mouthparts it uses to obtain its blood meal, as well as a number of its six jointed legs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then the Malaysians started to complain about bedbugs, and it turns out what normally happens is that ants like to eat bedbug larvae,” McWilson Warren said. “But the ants were being killed by the DDT and the bedbugs weren’t — they were pretty resistant to it. So now you had a bedbug problem.”

Malcolm Gladwell, “The Mosquito Killer, New Yorker Magazine, July 2, 2001; Annals of Public Health


2 Responses to Quote of the moment: DDT causing bed bug problems, Malcolm Gladwell

  1. […] immunity, as Macolm Gladwell noted in his wonderful profile of super-mosquito fighter Fred Soper. Bedbugs’ DDT resistance was noted in the former 3rd world early on.C. We’re broad minded, so we’ll even read a site we regard as being a bit to the left, such as […]


  2. Well you came into my house talking bedbugs.

    I studied those evil critturs and regard myself as expert on their culture and ecology.

    They remind me of capitalism.

    Look for my in-depth essay on long term eradication and follow these immediate tips:

    One bed bug is not the worst news you can get, a distinction reserved for two or more because a single pest can be destroyed but two are like your in-laws who come to stay.

    The first defence is a form of surrender while you scout their territory and plan their total annihilation, and that is to arm yourself with a hair dryer to take away the itch so you can get back to sleep. If you are itching then the trespass is probably over for possibly two nights while the blood is digested and breeding takes place. So heating the itch until you can’t take more of the pain relieves your nocturnal torment so both your vampire and you can sleep until the next encounter.

    Here a tactic has a fair chance of ending the siege, which is to strip your bed and place everything in a freezer for the next several hours. HEY i may as well tell you as well, you can become as sensitive as I am and can snatch them off your skin or corner them in your bed.

    During the day you can take more evasive action by isolating the bed from walls and immersing the legs of the bed in an oil. This leaves only your bedclothes to frisk and you will likely sleep until, yes this is recorded, the bugs ascend to the ceiling using your scent to find where to parachute inside your lines.

    Now it is game on!

    Using vaseline or silicon, or duct tape, seal all crevices and when that is complete re-arm the hair dryer and sweep the area driving all the bugs out of their nests or cooking them. Time is important at this phase because once a pair mates it is as if the very air becomes contaminated with invisible swarms that find you anywhere in the room and inflict a burning widespread itch that in scope is worse than the solitary adult night marauder. Once the children arrive your only recourse is to removing furniture and spray.

    Now here is the most evil aspect of bedbug life which I have not found in any authority: they are cannibals! A queen establishes her capital and doesn’t even venture out to risk herself but just waits for her lovers to bring your blood home and trade it for sex providing her harem with the double jeopardy of being eaten by her after successfully crossing your human battleground.

    I was so long at war that I noticed that the little invisible bugs, which should produce an increasing number of mature bugs never do because the Queen culls her tribe.

    I told you capitalism is identical to letting those damn things bite.

    Good luck. You can beat them provided no one in your residence experiences no reaction to their spit because when that is the case someone has to move on because that is the real insidious meaning behind the old saying, because ‘some people do let them bite.’


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