Portable Bed Bug Blood-Sucking Apparatus

February 5, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

I’M SORRY. But this is important. Behold: the laboratory feeding rituals of bed bugs — for science!

About a decade ago, bed bugs reemerged onto the scene after a 40-year hiatus and researchers were all like, oh, snap! Time to start studying these suckers! In order to test pesticides and whatnot, labs far and wide began harvesting thousands of bed bugs, only to encounter one major issue: nourishment. Bed bugs eat one thing only… can you guess what it is?

Blood. HUMAN BLOOD, specifically (though in desperate times, other mammals will do). So the totally logical solution for entomologists studying smaller populations has often been to let the little critters feast on their own blood, literally strapping the bugs onto their arms and legs in escape-proof containers, pictured above.

Sadly, when it comes to feeding larger populations, there just aren’t enough Mother Theresas of bed bug research to go around, so alternative feeding systems were developed. These range from the costly “Hemotek System,” which involves self-heating blood-filled tubes and screened-off Petri dishes, to fun DIY ditties made from materials you can find in your own home– like CDs, condoms, and rabbit blood!

Finally, when you start your own bed bug farm, don’t forget to blow on their feeding dish before suppertime– the smell of CO2 in human breath really revs up their appetites. Have fun!

(Images: PopSci)