Independent research teams from the U.S. and the U.K. are developing genetic techniques similar to those used in forensics labs to trace the ancestry of the bedbug. The work may help map the spread of the pesky bloodsucker over the course of the continuing global resurgence, as well as lead to DNA tests for use in lawsuits and other bed-bug-related disputes.
Chris Goggin doesn’t like the title “inventor,” despite the fact that nearly two dozen patents list him as one. He prefers “innovator.” Either way, the Wilmington, North Carolina, mechanical engineer and former product developer — his résumé includes military missile electronics, the George Foreman Spin Fryer, and fuel-tank mechanisms for the F-22 Raptor jet recognizes the need for a new device when he sees one. Two years ago, as more and more people began waking up with itchy, red welts on their body, he realized the world needed a cheap and effective way to detect bedbugs.
After a half-century of relative inactivity in the U.S., bedbugs returned in the late 1990s. Nationwide, 95 percent of pest-control companies have treated an infestation in the past year. A decade ago, it was just 22 percent.
In the five years that Popular Science has run the Invention Awards, we’ve seen a lot of remarkable things come out of people’s garages. Some are designed to treat the sick or save the planet. Others are simply fun to play with. But no matter what the purpose, the brilliance of the inventions and the dedication of the individuals behind them are always inspiring.
It’s the middle of the night, and you and your bed-partner are wide-awake running your hands over each other’s bodies. No, it’s not what it sounds like. You’ve got bedbugs.
Bedbugs have recently reinvaded American cities like New York, hiding in the tiny folds of mattresses and even cracks in walls, causing itching, redness and ultimately insomnia. Now scientists, publishing a new paper in the Journal of Medical Entomology, have done some intricate genetic detective work to find out how the critters have evolved a strong resistance to the insecticides used against them.