Back in 1929, Athens was apparently crawling (sorry) in bed bugs.
What to do?
Time magazine reported on one way of cutting down the population. (Warning: you have to skim past commentary on “ignorant and indolent” bedbugged Europeans to get to this.)
Last week one who has been vexed by Athenian bedbug pricks, Dr. N. T. Lorando, chief physician of the Evangelismos Hospital and Near East Relief at Athens, published in Scientific Monthly a learned treatise on bedbugs and biological bedbug hunters.
In the U. S., Dr. Lorando’s research reveals, red house ants attack bedbugs, dismember them, carry off body fragments to their nests. Florida peasants advocate introducing the ants artificially to homes.
Cockroaches are also voracious bedbug hunters so. in some places, is the kissing or assassin bug.
Disclaimer: no, you do not want red house ants, cockroaches, kissing or assassin bugs in your home. Centipedes also eat bed bugs, but they can sting if perturbed, so don’t call in troops of centipedes. None of this is a good bed bug treatment plan.
That out of the way, this is the juicy part:
But the insect of choice, in Dr. Lorando’s experience is Thanatos flavidus Simon, a spider. Bedbugs will run from an irate human, but they apparently have no fear of Thanatos flavidus Simon. He catches the bugs by their backs and sucks out their blood and juices until only a shell remains. So efficacious is Thanatos flavidus Simon that he thoroughly cleaned an Athenian suburb where bedbugs were so thick that householders were obliged to sweep them off the floors and sidewalks. Dr. Lorando reports that the spider is not poisonous to humans, is less objectionable about the house than are ants, cockroaches or kissing bugs.
Why can’t I find any photos on google images of, or other relevant links to “Thanatos flavidus Simon”?
Perhaps some of our friendly, neighborhood entomologists can tell us if something was spelled wrong by Time.
Could Thanatos flavidus Simon really have “cleaned an Athenian subsurb” of bed bugs?
Could this spider be of any use today?
I have a hunch we first have to find out what moniker he’s really using…
Time was referencing this article, which I am currently tracking down:
LORANDO, N. T., 1929: A biological method of destroying bedbugs. Sci. Monthly 29, 265-268.
Thanks to spideyjg, apparently an arachnid fan, for sharing this link in the forums.