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Bed Bugs more gross than mosquitos?

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  1. vampirestate

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 1 2011 3:02:01
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    They both suck your blood, asleep or otherwise, leave itchy welts, and are unwelcome.

    So why are bed bugs SO much grosser (at least to me) than mosquitos?

    I think it's because mosquitos at least fly away after (they aren't running around and hiding in your bed/room all the time.) And mosquitos have shorter life spans (I think?!) And mosquitos don't lay eggs in your belongings.

    Maybe just the name "bed bug" is enough to freak me out?!

    Just wondering because I caught my first bed bug (nymph) earlier today, and I am totally freaked about going to sleep, but I saw 2 mosquitos in my apartment and their presence doesn't really bother me (even though they will probably be dining on me as I sleep.)

  2. Richard_Naylor

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 1 2011 6:28:49
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    I don't know about "more gross" - at least they don't transmit any diseases, unlike mosquitoes. However, if you see a mosquito and do nothing, you might get one bite. If you see a bedbug and do nothing, there is a very good chance that the problem will rapidly get much worse and you will have your work cut out trying to get rid of them.

  3. jrbtnyc

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 1 2011 8:32:17
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    vampirestate - 5 hours ago  » 
    ...
    So why are bed bugs SO much grosser (at least to me) than mosquitos?
    ...

    Wow, do you realize what you are saying.

    Mosquitoes are the

    NO.1 GREATEST NATURAL ENEMY OF HUMANS ON EARTH.

    Here's a list of the some of the diseases mosquitoes transmit making millions of humans abjectly miserable, many on their way to death.

    malaria
    yellow fever
    dengue fever
    rift valley fever
    encephalitis, a few kinds
    west nile virus
    lymphatic filariasis

    If you get any of those, you'll long for the days when you fretted over paltry bed bugs, who are not known to transmit any diseases at all (yet).

    See for instance...

    http://www.mosquito.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=39&Itemid=116

    ..."Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism – over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year. ..."

    (We who live in temperate zones are significantly spared because most of the mosquito-borne illnesses tend to be strongest in the tropics.)

    And incidentally, the no.2 worldwide natural enemy of humans is ticks, not far behind mosquitoes. They offer quite an assortment of afflictions too – for another post.

  4. MoreThanOnceBitten

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 1 2011 9:15:43
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    I am not a fan of BBs, but ticks just make me want to hurl.

    I mean they stick in you and stay there. That is just, nasty.

    At least the BB takes his drink and Skeee daddles away.

  5. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 1 2011 9:34:05
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    jrbtnyc,

    Not everyone has the same level of skill in expressing precisely what they mean in writing, and that fact is especially true when people are deeply stressed out and anxious.

    Reading your response to this post made me feel like your response didn't take that fact into consideration.

    The way I read Vampirestate's original post is that he or she was asking this question, even if that's not quite how Vampirebites phrased it:

    If mosquitos and bed bugs both suck human blood, and in the process cause itchy bite responses, why is it that if you ask the average person in the United States or Canada or Western Europe, the average person considers mosquitos to be a minor annoyance that is something you tolerate seasonally but bed bugs are a scourge of disgusting vermin.

    So here's my answer to Vampirestate's question because I think that version is a really valid question.

    It is a well-known, observable fact that people are often have irrational (i.e. non-logical, non-bases in statistical facts) to *some* situations. Barry Glassner's book The Culture of Fear is a great example of that. He talks about school shootings by pointing out that statistically we're all much more likely to die in a car accident on the way to school or from health issues related to air pollution than we are to die in a school shooting, but most of us don't get up in the morning after hearing about the latest car accidents and fret that it cold happen to us. Nor do most of us panic and fear death when we hear that the air quality is supposed to be particularly bad on a given day--as those of us who live in cities with air quality reports often do.

    If approached from an analysis of statistically which thing is most likely to kill us, then, yes, we should be more afraid of mosquitos.

    I think that's kind of Vampirestate's point.

    I hear Vampirestate asking why that's not the case.

    Glassner doesn't make the next step in his book quite firmly enough for me (his focus is really on how and why the media covers certain stories one way). What Glassner overlooks is that clearly, for the vast majority of people, certain news stories touch an emotional nerve that elicits a disproportionate response.

    Thus, we react to school shootings as proof of the downfall of American values because on an unconscious level, we believe that children are all inherently innocent. We hold onto our ideas of school as a safe place--a refuge from the horrors of every day adult life.

    When one child shoots another in that environment, without being conscious of it, many people feel like that safety has been violated.

    And our society's disproportionate response is an attempt to shore up our notions about school and children which may, or may not, be grounded in reality.

    Now, that's not to discount the horrors of school shootings. Nobody wants to see any group of people slaughtered in a place that we like to think of as safe. But we should also be as horrified at the staggering numbers of teenagers who are killed in car accidents every year; those numbers are much higher.

    However, they don't happen all at once, usually.

    And too often, on some level (albeit often an unconscious one), our emotional response to a teenager who dies in a car accident is to assume--unless it's someone we know--that the teenager in the car did something wrong. We think that because the person who died was a teenager, he or she must have been driving recklessly, or texting, or talking to friends, or was drunk, or what have you.

    American society in general has a weird tendency toward blaming the victims of tragedies in an attempt to make us feel like we're safe and immune and in control of things that we're not.

    (For me, these dynamics go a long way toward explaining how the US has responded to the 9/11 attacks. I've long suspected that part of the reason that I take a more Glassner-like approach to airport security is that I had to come face to face with a different approach to airplane based terrorism before I even had a driver's license. But that's another story for another day.)

    My point here is that bed bugs have characteristics that explain why we have an emotionally disproportionate response to them.

    First, bed bugs invade our sense of security. They come into our homes in large numbers (or in small numbers with the potential to grow into large numbers) and set up shop. Most people don't get breeding mosquito infestations inside their homes.

    The fact that the US doesn't have widespread mosquito-based illness is a testament to the fact that we have had large-scale, successful pest control programs to eradicate those illnesses as epidemics. (I grew up in the South, so I remember seeing the mosquito control trucks out spraying. Trust me; that climate is absolutely not temperate. Bamboo and carnivorous plants grew at the camp I went to in the summers. The city I lived in measured its annual rainfall in feet instead of inches. By all measures, the climate there was not a lot different than that in many developing countries. It is a part of the world that as late as the very early 20th century still had problems with yellow fever.)

    Secondly, pest control doesn't appear to be effective to many bed bug sufferers. We expect pest control to happen before the pest spreads, and if it does end up in our homes, we have become accustomed to a single treatment working most of the time.

    (We on the boards know bed bugs can be beaten. We know that society could take more steps to slow the spread of bed bugs and help educate people about them so that treatments can start earlier and be more effective. But the word on the street about bed bugs is still often wrong.)

    Third, they're expensive to remove. And the government isn't paying for it. If you think about mosquito control, it's something that the average home owner or renter doesn't directly pay for.

    Fourth, they visibly poop where we sleep.

    It seems like a small thing, but in this case, I don't think it is. Mosquitos must poop too, but we don't see it. And the vast majority of people have a visceral negative response to crap in pretty much any form.

    And last but not least, it's important to remember that we're still dealing with a societal stigma attached to bed bugs. There is still the belief, often unconsciously, that bed bugs mean that you're a dirty, poor, or ill-kept person. *We know* that's not true, but when scripts like that get repeated in society for decades on end, even using rationality and logic to attempt to overcome them

    I suspect that a lot of people react to bed bugs but not mosquitos because nobody in society runs around treating people with a mosquito problem like social pariahs.

    It's only through education and awareness that, over time, will we as a society be able to undo the damage from those judgmental attitudes.

  6. slj29

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 1 2011 11:16:48
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    I am not more disgusted or scared by one bed bug biting me than a mosquito biting me; both, in theory, are just minor annoyances if you don't encounter them in the home. The fear is the numbers, the relentless infestation, and that one bed bug means more bugs laying eggs and developing in your home, which means more time and money and stress in the one place that should be a refuge. I think that's mainly why I fear bed bugs and swat mosquitoes without a second thought.

  7. Dionyseus

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sun Jul 3 2011 11:20:52
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    Great post buggyinsocal.

  8. HelpinDC

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 5 2011 13:21:04
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    Vampirestate, I know exactly what you mean! I have found myself asking myself several times if I would be as hysterical about having a mosqito infestation as I am about having bed bugs, and the answer is no, even though I know doesn't really make much sense.

    I'm surprised at some of the responses that you received; those people are obviously not in the throes of dealing with a bed bug infestation, or perhaps they are non-reactors to bites. Whatever the reason, I completely understand your thoughts!

    I think for myself, one of the main reasons that I find bed bugs so much more disturbing is that they crawl over you and bite you while you're asleep. There's something about that that feels very violating and grotesque. At least with mosquitos, you're usually awake and they just land on you, bite, and fly away. They don't crawl around on you, walking to bite location #2 and #3, staying on you for several minutes to feed at each spot. Also, knowing that they're hiding in the cracks and crevices of your home, just waiting for you to fall asleep so they can come out, makes them seem much more malicious and scary.

    It's also the stigma that is still associated with bed bugs, and the fact that you can spread them to family and friends that you visit. I don't think that most people would be ashamed or embarassed to say that they have mosquitos in their home, yet I have told few people in my life about bed bugs.


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