NCBI ROFL: Chest waxers beware: body hair protects against bedbugs.

By ncbi rofl | December 14, 2011 7:10 pm

Human fine body hair enhances ectoparasite detection

“Although we are relatively naked in comparison with other primates, the human body is covered in a layer of fine hair (vellus and terminal hair) at a relatively high follicular density. There are relatively few explanations for the evolutionary maintenance of this type of human hair. Here, we experimentally test the hypothesis that human fine body hair plays a defensive function against ectoparasites (bed bugs). Our results show that fine body hair enhances the detection of ectoparasites through the combined effects of (i) increasing the parasite’s search time and (ii) enhancing its detection.”

Bonus excerpt from the full text:

“(c) Experimental treatment
The experimental procedure required that each host was tested on a shaved and unshaved arm (randomized with respect to arm and temporal sequence). The treatment arm was shaved on the upper surface between the wrist and the elbow with a new razor (Gillette Mach 4), while using the same brand of perfume- and colour-free soap (Simple). A rectangle measuring 5 × 10 cm was then drawn on the shaved area with a marker pen and vaseline (a barrier to bed bug locomotion) applied to the marked boundary. This ensured each host experienced the same potential surface contact with the parasites. Testing on the unshaved (control) arm was preceded by washing the unshaven arm with the same soap as the treatment, and generating a vaseline-delimited rectangle as in the treatment.

Each host was given a tally-counter and asked to look away as a bed bug was placed within the vaseline rectangle on their arm. Prior to release, all bed bugs experienced the same handling conditions. The volunteer was instructed to use the tally-counter every time they perceived the presence of something on their arm. The experimenter timed the duration of search behaviour of the bed bug on the host’s arm and removed the insect as it extended its proboscis (the stereotyped pre-feeding behaviour). The search time was recorded as the time between placement on the host and extension of the proboscis. Host tally-counts were used as an index of parasite ‘detections’.”

Thanks to Stevo for today’s ROFL!

Photo: Flickr/vince42

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Traumatic insemination and sexual conflict in the bed bug Cimex lectularius.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Beer Consumption Increases Human Attractiveness to Malaria Mosquitoes.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Nothing like a thin coat of earwax to keep the bugs away.

WTF is NCBI ROFL? Read our FAQ!

  • Anonymous

    thank you for your information!

  • Mindy Songfer

    If you are looking to try something new, the clothes free lifestyle could be your answer to meeting new nudist friends who look just like everyone.  Naturistmingle com is the best choice for you!  Nothing wrong with being naked as long as you enjoy it and can handle it. We are all born that way! 

  • Anonymous

    Well. eliminating the horror of bedbugs still does not make up for the pain of accidental contact with Velcro.

  • 378492611

    well , I will not blow my body hair any more


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

About ncbi rofl

NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


See More

Collapse bottom bar