Questions for ‘Return of the bed bug’

A mix of bed bug eggs and fecal droppings (dark blotches).

A mix of bed bug eggs and fecal droppings (dark blotches).

Harold Harlan/AFPMB/ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

To accompany feature: Return of the bed bug


Before reading:

1.    What do bed bugs feed on?

2.    Describe in full the appearance of a bed bug that has not eaten recently.

3.    What has happened to bed bugs in the last 15 or so years?

4.    What evidence does the story provide in suggesting bed bugs have fed on people — or our ancestors — for a long time?

5.    How do bed bugs manage so well to follow us in our movements?

6.    What role has DDT played in the occurrence and evolution of the bed bug?

7.    What is the connection between inexpensive air travel and the resurgence of the bed bug, according to the story?

8.    Using details from the story, describe a scenario in which a hotel room plays a role in the spread of bed bugs.

9.    How are bed-bug pheromones pointing the way to new methods of trapping the insects?

After reading:

1.    DDT was effective in eliminating or reducing the threat of bed bugs. Why isn’t the use of this chemical again an option in fighting bed bugs?

2.    What evidence does the story provide to suggest that the bed bug problem will never go away?


1.    Create a timeline that traces the history of the bed bug. Include as many of the dates and periods of time given in the story as possible.