Do Bedbugs have parasites?
May 20, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Are there parasites that live ON bed bugs?

It is easy, really. I need an entomologist's ruling.

I have a friend who is a bit of a paranoid and probably (as in should be on medication but isn't a danger to himself or others) borders on the schizophrenic. He doesn't read much, what he does read he doesn't understand very well, but listens to things and then regurgitates them half-understood.

The latest thing is with bed bugs - he says that they have tiny flying insects that live on them that he can feel and that fly around and lay eggs in your pores that the bedbugs are then attracted to.

I told him that, no... I don't believe that is correct. I explained about the blood meals, natural predators, effective pesticides and so on, but he just keeps saying that he was told this by a "qualified medical professional®" and that all I am is a creative, so what would I know about Science™... "Well that's your science" he says... and then trots out his Medical Professionals again.

Is there an in-depth paper or explanation I could show him? It would need to be something from an entomologist, not just bedbugger.com or something casual like that.

And yes, I understand that I can't change his delusions or fix his mental illness. I do, however, need to be able to represent myself to him as NOT a threat so that our building can get the pesticide treatments it needs. This is a man who wants to get cans of Raid from Walgreen's because the pharmacists told him it is what he needs - because "These people work with chemicals and understand chemicals".

Thoughts or help?
posted by anonymous to Science & Nature (11 answers total)
 
Your friend has paranoiac parasitosis, it sounds like. He needs medical treatment.
posted by clockzero at 10:50 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]




I know about Science™... "Well that's your science" he says... and then trots out his Medical Professionals again.

Is there an in-depth paper or explanation I could show him? It would need to be something from an entomologist

Science™ probably won't be of much help to you here, but there's a detailed entry on bedbugs by Dini Miller, an entomologist at Virginia Tech, in the Encyclopedia of Entomology (Springer, 2008).

But, really, what clockzero said.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:58 AM on May 20, 2011


You are not going to convince him. Also regardless of whether you play along, he could decide at any time that you are a threat. Based on nothing.

(Incidentally, if you want an interesting dramatic example of paranoiac parasitosis in action, you should check out the movie Bug, based on the play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts.)
posted by hermitosis at 12:19 PM on May 20, 2011


There's a book called Big Fleas have Little Fleas that talks about this a bit. No doubt bedbugs have parasites. If he likes to reference 'qualified medical professionals', then you can whip out this book and give it to him.

But...
he says that they have tiny flying insects that live on them that he can feel and that fly around and lay eggs in your pores that the bedbugs are then attracted to.

Where did he come up with this? As stated above, bed bugs are attracted to us, our breathing and warmth. Bed bugs would be more likely to want to get away from their parasites. He says he can feel these bedbug parasites? Sounds like his imagination is taking itchy skin and building up a whole complicated parasitic world around it.
posted by eye of newt at 1:05 PM on May 20, 2011


tiny flying insects that live on them that he can feel

Your friend needs psychiatric treatment; getting into arguments with him about his delusions is unproductive because you'll never convince him he's wrong.
posted by exhilaration at 1:50 PM on May 20, 2011


Watch this movie and then encourage your friend to seek real medical help.
posted by jsturgill at 3:49 PM on May 20, 2011


Mod note: From the OP:
Thanks so much for your input, guys. I appreciate it.
I completely understand the scope of my friend's problem. I didn't want to go into it, but I am used to any number of paranoid delusions that range from the Masons plotting against Rev. Farrakhan to random strangers putting vague "chemicals" on his clothing in public places. He then spends $ on having the garment sent to a lab (of course they find nothing, so they are in on it as well). There is lots or referencing chemicals without understanding chemistry. There is also lots of hoarding things and taking pictures of random strangers on the sidewalk who are being paid by any number of art critics and organizations. I have learned to avoid certain things - I never knock on his door or leave notes for him, or physically hand him anything unless he has seen me work with it myself - I wait for him to come talk to me.

But this is different. I am not trying to dance around too much with his mental health issues - I just need to be able to say something like: "Look. Here is the information. Do what you want with it, but the building IS getting sprayed." Which is the way I usually talk to him.

I have always been really, really honest with him about stuff - so he doesn't talk to me about the Masons anymore because I say something like "I don't believe that is the case..." or "That has not been my experience..." or "I find that hard to believe..." and he seems to respect that.

I am well aware that he needs medication (and honestly probably hospitalization to deal with ADL's), but I am not the one who is able to get that for him, have dealt with the mentally ill before, and am pretty secure in how I feel about my own safety around him.

Otherwise, I really respect this guy - he is a bit of a genius painter who is fairly well known in some circles and otherwise we get along. He does trust me (more than he trusts most people) so if anyone can get the building totally sprayed, it will hinge on my input and not the landlord's.

The bedbug abstract may help - I will email that to him.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:19 PM on May 20, 2011


This news story came up recently: Bedbugs carry drug-resistant MRSA.

The news coverage often referred to MSRA, a bacteria, as a "superbug," in that it has been causing many hospital infections. So, bug in the sense of a germ, but not a literal bug.

I can see how this fancy media wordplay might have seeded your friend's conviction, based on your description of him.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:02 PM on May 20, 2011


The thing about delusions is that they are pretty firmly held and unshakeable. Without medication, that is.
posted by whalebreath at 5:37 AM on May 21, 2011


There aren't any academic papers showing a lack of existence of tiny unicorns living in your ears. However, this doesn't mean there are tiny unicorns living in your ears. The lack of a paper disproving something isn't proof of it's existence. In that light, I cannot point you to any papers about bugs that live in your pores and have some sort of symbiotic relationship with bed bugs. What someone above pointed to you was a paper showing that just like most biting insects, bed bugs are attracted primarily to CO2 and heat.
posted by pwb503 at 11:19 AM on May 21, 2011


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