Bedbugs, or Cimex lectularius, have feasted on humans for centuries, according to University of Kentucky entomologists. These tiny bloodsuckers have been written into ancient Greek plays, appear in the Jewish Talmud and have even been used for medicinal purposes.
Earliest Records of Bedbugs
The oldest known bedbug fossil, estimated to be 3,550 years old, was uncovered at an Egyptian archaeological site in the 1990s. However, scientists believe bedbugs preyed on bats inside Mediterranean caves even earlier than that. Once humans became cave dwellers, bedbugs evolved into a species that preferred human blood.
Bedbugs traveled across oceans in clothing and baggage.
We know that bedbugs reached Europe by the first century, since Pliny, a Roman philosopher, wrote in A.D. 76 that snakebites and ear infections could benefit from treatments using bedbugs. The reddish-brown insects were documented in China by 600. They were in England by the late 1500s, and from there it was a quick hop to North America. Scientists believe bedbugs arrived here with explorers, since no Native American name exists for them.
Spread by travelers, bedbugs are found worldwide.
Bedbug names reinforce the insect's global travel. The Greeks called a bedbug a "coris," which meant "to bite." In ancient Rome, the word "cimex" meant "a bug," and the species name "lectularius" means "bed." In Spain, "chinche" is the earliest word for bedbug. The first New Yorkers called them "red coats."Tags: believe bedbugs