Bedbugs plague homes the world over. But even after they’re gone, their effects on your health may not disappear. A new study traces the problem to their lingering poop.
Bedbug feces contains a chemical called histamine (HISS-tuh-meen). It is part of their pheromones. That’s a mix of chemicals that the insects excrete to attract others of their kind. In people, however, histamine can trigger allergy symptoms. Among these are itchiness and asthma. (Our bodies also naturally release histamine when confronted with an allergy-provoking substance.)
While some treatments can successfully kill off bedbugs, their poop can linger. So the histamine can remain in carpets, furniture upholstery and other household items long after the vermin are gone.
Zachary C. DeVries works at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. As an entomologist, he studies insects. His specialty: urban pests. He and his team shared their histamine data February 12 in PLOS ONE.