Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bedbugs are Biting Again

BlogHer finally pointed me to some links of interest--Bedbugger Blog and "The Bedbug Blog: I had bedbugs. I needed emotional support. I created this website." People are aware of bedbugs again. For some reason they are inspiring support groups, in contrast to more familiar vermin. (I don't see any support blogs for roach sufferers--yet.)

As an entomologist, the Heteroptera were my particular interest, and people used to tell me their ectoparasite troubles. (I was a professional, after all.) Most of the bedbug infestations I heard about were in old houses with bats in the attic or basement. Bats and birds have their own bedbug species, which they are happy to share with us when circumstances permit. The recent urban infestations which leave people in need of peer support are of Cimex lectularius, Linnaeus (Insecta: Hemiptera: Cimicidae). This is the common bedbug, Wanz, cimex, which has infested humans and domestic animals for thousands of years. Like untreatable bacterial infections, bedbugs are making a comeback. Book cover: Sexual Selection and Animal Genitalia

The strangest thing about these odd bugs is their mating system--"haemocelic insemination." The male bedbug's intromitent organ is contained inside one of the genital claspers, which is used to puncture the female bedbug's body wall. Spermatozoa are injected directly into the female's body cavity, where they migrate to the ovaries. Other heteropteran families, including Nabidae and Anthocoridae, have similar morphological and behavioral adaptations. Bill Eberhardt, in Sexual Selection and Animal Genitalia, mentions several other animal groups with analogous mating systems. He classifies it as "male-male genitalic competition."

Here's something I really don't understand. A Google search of "Cimex" produced dozens of different corporate names. Cimex is the genus name of the bedbug, identical to the Latin word for that unpopular insect. Why would you select it to advertise the product you hope will make your fortune? You might expect that biotech and pharmaceutical companies would be sensitive to distasteful scientific names, but no. Here are several Cimex companies.

  • Cimex Learning Homepage. Cimex is a privately owned company with a proven 10 year track record of developing successful interactive learning solutions across a wide range of digital platforms.
  • Cimex-USA, a carpet cleaner company.
  • About Cimex-Corp" Cimex is a full service computer integration company, fulfilling manufacturing needs in various fields such as, Printing/Packaging, Die making, Automation, and Quality control.
  • CIMEX BioTech, L.C.® was created because of our belief in the importance of connecting the needs of the medical world with the expanse of engineering knowledge.
  • Welcome to Cimex. We are proud to introduce Cimex, a defining force in the world of generic drugs, offering the leading European generics players the products and services needed to facilitate access to quality medicine at fair prices.


Dave said...

That's a riot about the Cimex companies! Presumably each name created ex nihilo for the sonic vibe only, by absurdly overpaid creative types (he says without a hint of jealosy) who can't be bothered to do a Google search or talk to a reference librarian. You should submit this post to the Circus of the Spineless.

I've blogged about bedbug sex in the past, but oddly it didn't elicit quite the flurry of comments I'd hoped. I think it's just too freakin' weird and disturbing for most people. Insects shouldn't exist, really.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I met some people from a company that invented names. It seemed like a nightmare job. Imagine having to weave, cut, and sew the Emperor's new clothes. Do you think you could get out of the kingdom fast enough?

Anonymous said...


My name is Sean and I am a former pest control technician and now a Quality Assurance Manager and Technical Advisor for one of North America’s largest pest control companies.

I have spent the better part of the past five years studying and researching bed bugs. It has literally become a hobby.

I have created a website geared toward providing the public with a place to go to get unbiased information and allow industry professionals to communicate with each other on this issue.

The site is called The Bed Bug Resource ( At the top of the page there is a Forum button that will take you to the message boards.

If you find this to be a useful resource please feel free to post a link to it, or pass the information on to colleagues and the general public.

If you reference the site or use any of its material I ask that a copy of the article be sent to me.


Entomologist / Pest Professional

Jeff Mather said...

For a wonderfully entertaining, fictional look at creating new product and place names, try Colson Whitehead's Apex Hides the Hurt.