Thursday 18 December, 2014

Hairy limbs better at fending off bed bugs

Published On: Thu, Dec 15th, 2011 | Social Health | By BioNews

Hairier skin may be the key to avoid being bitten by bed bugs, a new study has claimed.

According to researchers from Sheffield University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, hair slows down the bed bugs and warns the victim.

Michael Siva-Jothy and his team recruited 29 brave volunteers to test the theory further, watching the bedbugs as they found a place to feed and removing them only as they were about to bite.

He found that more layers of both longer visible hairs and finer, “vellus” hairs near the surface appeared to work as a deterrent to the insects, with the finer hairs also acting as an early warning system.

“If you have a heavy coat of long thick hairs it is easier for parasites to hide,” the BBC quoted Siva-Jothy as saying.

“Our findings show that more body hairs mean better detection of parasites – the hairs have nerves attached to them and provide us with the ability to detect displacement,” he said.

He said that the hair also slowed down the insect as it searched for a tasty spot to bite.

“The results have implications for understanding why we look the way we do, what selective forces might have driven us to look the way we do, and may even provide insight for better understanding of how to reduce biting insects’ impact on humans,” he added.

The study has been published in the journal Biology Letters.

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