26 March 2010


Good evening and welcome to this week's edition of "Tiny Creatures" with me Professor Pudding. This evening we are looking at a sadly maligned and misunderstood little darling called, in German, the "nachtkrabbler" or night crawler. We know it as "cimex lectularius" - the common bedbug. It has been a faithful companion of the human race for millennia and it was one of Europe's first exports to North America. That's why they sent us the grey squirrel and Kentucky Fried Chicken!

Normally living for six to nine months, the bedbug is an infrequent feeder. They like to gorge themselves with warm blood for five minutes and might not feed again for several days. Adults may measure 4/5mm in length and as some readers will testify, they are visible to the naked eye - as are the itchy red spots they often leave on our bare flesh. Their preferred feeding time is just before dawn. Like mini-vampires they detest sunlight.

Sex is something special for bedbugs. Instead of the usual tried and tested method, the male whips out his hypodermic organ and simply pierces the female's outer shell, depositing semen directly inside her body cavity. It's called traumatic insemination. I doubt that it will ever catch on with human beings but stranger things have happened at British Conservative Party conferences.

It would be eminently possible to begin a new blog devoted entirely to bedbugs, their lives, new discoveries about them, rates of infestation, control methods and so on. Undoubtedly it would receive many hits. I suggest that this is something that "Anonymous" who commented on my last blogpost might like to develop.

This may be hard to believe but over in The States there are such creatures as bedbug detection dogs that are able to sniff out the sources of bedbug infestations, allowing better targeting of pesticides. During the daytime, as bedbugs await the return of their kind hosts, they tend to gather in bedroom crevices or in the edge piping of mattresses. They're probably just listening to bedbug music, socialising or comparing tactics ahead of nightfall.

Don't you agree - entomology is fascinating? And if you're interested in bedbugs, a good place to begin your studies is the next hotel room you book. They're especially fond of the varied diet provided by an ever-changing succession of guests. Next week - the head louse. Don't have nightmares!


  1. Elizabeth10:37 pm

    Louses are a part of our world and will always be crawling nearby to irritate and hurt us. Like all cowards they work under cover of darkness, afraid of being exposed to the light. Sadly, some of them have grown immune to the most potent of insecticides.
    Remember, YP,that, for every attacker, there are twice as many people who support and encourage you with their kind comments and friendly banter. They are the ones worth hanging on to. x

  2. Award for you over at mine!

  3. Well, you guys have totally lost me. I was just reading this over my morning cup of coffee, wondering what prompted a blog about bedbugs, and hoping it wasn't personal experience. And now we have what appears to be a political disagreement.

    OK, I'm going back to reread it with a more discerning eye. I think England may need a visit from Alaska's Sarah Palin, who can make even a bedbug seem intelligent.

  4. My own organ is an Aeolian-Skinner.

    I laughed out loud (well, chuckled almost audibly) three times whilst reading your post -- a new record!

  5. REGULAR VISITORS Apologies for the recent alien invasion of my comments section. One day I may explain what I think it was all about but in the meantime I will simply delete any banal and irrelevant remarks.

  6. YP, that's all well and good, but don't try deleting any of mine as your computer will implode.

  7. I beg you... Please, I can't take much more of this ! First the creepy crawlie eyebrow thingies and now this !!! I may never stay in a hotel again. EEEEEK !

  8. Anonymous8:06 am

    nice post. thanks.


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.