According to new research from the University of Sheffield in the UK, hairy skin can help prevent bed bugs from biting. In fact, the study helps explain why bed bugs and other parasites such as mosquitoes, ticks, and leeches, will seek out the less hairy areas of the body; such as wrists and ankles.
Research has shown that our bodies are covered in a layer of two types of fine hair. One type is short and nearly invisible, and the other is longer and more visible. Researchers argue that there are “relatively few explanations for the evolutionary maintenance of this type of human hair,” so scientists wanted to test the notion, that perhaps the hair acts as a defense; against ectoparasites like bed bug invaders.
The UK study recruited 29 healthy volunteers, who had one arm shaved and one arm left with hairs on. Then the participants allowed hungry bed bugs to be placed on the skin; of both their arms. The results of the bed bug control study, showed that the fine body hair is highly beneficial to people, because it helps deter bed bug invaders; in two ways: by increasing the time it takes for the insect to find a suitable spot to start sucking blood, and by helping people feel them crawling on the hair; across their skin.
Not only does the fine hair that covers our bodies help us detect the presence of parasitic insects (like bed bugs), it also acts as a natural bug control method, of preventing them from biting. In fact, this advantage appeared greater for those participants in the study, who had more layers of hair. This is because it took the insects longer to find an ideal feeding site; on the volunteer’s arms.
- Bed Bug’s Secret Invasion Strategy Revealed: Inbreeding (blogpestcontrol.com)
- Why do you have so much less fur than other primates? [Evolution] (io9.com)