What Do Bedbugs Have to Do with Global Warming?

So far I have avoided any interaction with bedbugs, but I know a few people who have experienced infestations, and it’s starting to become a worrisome trend. Then, the other week I saw a home remedy for catching bed bugs that involved dry ice. Dry ice? It turns out that dry ice is solidified CO2—otherwise known as carbon dioxide. It occurred to me that maybe there is a connection to the excessive amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere (a major contributor to global warming) and a surge in bedbugs.

While it sounds like a crazy idea, my family is renowned for having crazy ideas that prove true decades later. And really, it’s not crazy at all; it’s about connecting the dots between things that other people may not be paying attention to. I mean, are climate scientists thinking about bedbug infestations, or are they thinking about atmospheric factors? Are bedbug scientists (a tough job, but someone needs to do it) thinking about atmospheric changes, or are they focusing on immigration and travel changes?

I would love it if some wacky Google search or RSS feed would connect me with some scientists who may be looking at the connection between bedbugs and global warming or climate change. Why?

Well, clearly, people aren’t responding to plain old scientific reports warning of impending doom. If they were, President Nixon would have listened to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who warned of the threat of global warming in 1969!!!!

But as we know, people love to deny science, going all the way back through history—it’s as predictable as the ending of a romance novel (which I love, by the way). The world is flat, the sun revolves around the earth, the womb wanders, and women and anyone not white are inferior to white men. Of course, we find with all of these things that science has proved the exact opposite to be true.

Maybe, just maybe, people will listen to the bedbugs. Instead of thinking of global warming as a scientific hoax, they can think of it as INVASION OF THE BEDBUGS! And do something serious about it. Unfortunately, I am in a cynical mood today, so what would probably happen is that people would respond with guns, chemical warfare, and even worse toxins, speeding our doom rather than saving us.

Anyway, there is a heat wave going through the East Coast and it’s too hot to think. Certainly too hot to think about anything as serious as global warming….

Does anyone know any bedbug scientists?


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20 Responses to What Do Bedbugs Have to Do with Global Warming?

  1. Donna in Delaware July 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Never dismiss anything! All is possible, not sure all is probable though. It’s ok to feel cynical sometimes. We all get fed up with the goings on in life, but we keep on truckin’. That’s the indominable human spirit. It passes and we surge ahead. So do the bedbugs!

  2. Laura B. July 12, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    I’ve read that bedbugs are attracted to co2 because we humans emit it when we sleep. it helps them find us, then they help themselves to our blood. I guess they use co2 as a lure for some type of trap. Perhaps a glue type trap.

  3. Laura July 12, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    I believe that dry ice is manufactured using CO2 that is given off as a waste product in industrial processes–CO2 which otherwise would have vented into the atmosphere. So freezing it first, and then allowing it to sublimate (change from solid to gas) doesn’t change the net CO2 that would be vented into the atmosphere.

    BTW, I am an atmospheric scientist. 🙂

  4. Alex July 13, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    “It occurred to me that maybe there is a connection to the excessive amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere and a surge in bedbugs.” -Maria Rodale, CEO, Rodale Inc.

    Rodale, you are a complete dolt. I will be surprised if this embarrassingly stupid post of your stays up through the week. It will either be taken down, or this comment, exposing your shocking ignorance will be taken down.

    Bedbugs, like mosquitoes are in part attracted to their food source by C02. They “smell” their way to their food, because their food reliably emits C02, just like bears find honey because it has a reliable smell (a chemical signature).

    Asserting (this is what you did, Maria Rodale) that C02 in the air somehow causes bedbugs to proliferate, as if they need it or directly benefit from it like plants, is beyond ignorant. A decent grade in a high school biology class would dispel this nonsense.

    Dear Board of Directors at Rodale Inc.,

    I’m sorry to inform you that you have a fool at the helm. I am no biologist, I’m not even a formal scientist, yet my knowledge of these very basic things (not to mention my critical thinking skills) are vastly superior to the embarrassment running your company. If your current CEO’s illogical and wildly inaccurate statements regarding very basic animal reproduction are any indication, she is also lacking the actual knowledge and critical thinking skills to address organic agriculture and human diet and fitness – main components of your business.

    I suggest you replace this arrogant clown.

  5. Alex July 13, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    You might as well have claimed that light bulbs cause more moths in the world because a light bulb attracts moths at night. The fact that this is bogus on a scientific level is one thing (no one expects you to be a scientist, though Rodale Inc. deals with fundamentally scientific topics), but it demonstrates a very clear lack of critical thinking ability. “Correlation is not causation.” There is more global warming and less slavery in the world — this does not mean that global warming prevents slavery.

    How many people rely on the jobs provided by the company you head? Should the board of directors feel confident in a CEO that is outclassed by a passerby on the internet?

  6. Laura B. July 13, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    WOW! Alex, you need to calm down! Maria did state “While it sounds like a crazy idea,” then asks for the opinion of “bedbug scientists.”
    I appreciate the mind that is open, and therefore vulnerable-that questions all & assumes nothing- this questioning & openness ultimately leads to the truth. We are all here to learn, & to teach!
    For you to be SO CRITICAL, mocking & insulting to those that are BRAVE enough to question, & be vulnerable-is a common tactic used by certain bully talk & radio show hosts. This tactic intimidates & threatens those who want to question to keep their mouths shut, resulting in “business as usual” for those who want to keep things the same. Tyranny, basically.
    Your anger issues no doubt stem from your own perceived insecurities, inferiority & short-comings. You attack those who appear weaker, thus-it makes you feel stronger. Please seek some therapy, resolve your issues & stop attacking others, as it will never, ever really make you, or anyone-feel better about themselves.
    Do you really feel better after writing that email? I thought not.

  7. poette July 13, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    Hmm. Let’s go one step further. Let’s assume that global warming which is caused by too much CO2 is causing more bedbugs because the critters crave CO2. Then the more CO2 pollution, in the atmosphere, the more it will mask the CO2 that we emit from our bodies and the bedbugs won’t be drawn to us. There will be more bedbugs, but they can’t home in on us. Same for mosquitoes.

  8. maria (farm country kitchen) July 13, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    Thank you Laura B for your very kind defense of my intellectual curiosity. I admit I am not a scientist, and so does dear “Alex.”

    It takes thick skin to do what I do — and a fundamental understanding that I can never please everybody all the time. Thank you all for your comments!

  9. Summer July 13, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    Maria, your grace and charm shine through in your response to name calling and anger. I love that! Intellectual curiousity is one of our most valuable and largely untapped resources, often because we are taught at a young age to stifle such meanderings and stick to the facts. And look where that has gotten us. Everything is connected in so many ways we have not even begun to figure out yet, it seems to me to be quite valuable to ask: is there a connection here? Maybe we can learn something from a bedbug? I live in Canada, and there have certainly been more bedbugs in Canadian cities than in previous years, in spite of our killer cold winters. Changing weather patterns? CO2? I think I’ll go get some dry ice and glue and do a little experiment…..

  10. Alex July 13, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    “Thank you Laura B for your very kind defense of my intellectual curiosity.” -Maria Rodale, CEO, Rodale Inc.

    Nothing was defended.

    “I appreciate the mind that is open, and therefore vulnerable-that questions all & assumes nothing- this questioning & openness ultimately leads to the truth,” said Laura B.

    No no, Maria Rodale very clearly ASSUMED that C02 was somehow causing bedbugs, which is absolute nonsense on a scientific level, and a failure to think critically.

    What it IS however is a reckless attempt to connect something bad (bedbugs) with global warming to influence opinions. It’s no different that imagery of stranded polar bears when polar bear numbers in the wild are rising. It’s no different than the picture of the hurricane on the cover of An Inconvenient Truth, when in fact the hurricane season for that year was REMARKABLY quiet. Lies, lies, lies.

    So, what can we conclude?

    -“CO2 = bedbugs” still not adequately defended but properly debunked
    -Maria Rodale is not open-minded, making flagrantly misleading assumptions
    -intellectual curiosity is not a license to throw critical thinking out the window, nor are they mutually exclusive.

  11. maria (farm country kitchen) July 13, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    Last comment from me here: I would never ASSUME that CO2 causes bedbugs! I am questioning whether there MIGHT be a connection between the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere (undisputed scientifically), and the rise in bedbug populations — also undisputed scientifically.

    I would still appreciate if some real scientists would weigh in!

  12. Alex July 13, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    “What Do Bedbugs Have to Do with Global Warming?” is the title of this article. Anyone familiar with media (all of us) understand that when something is titled in such a way, it means the article is going to argue to some degree that there IS a connection, otherwise there would be no point in writing it. eg “Can coffee reduce the risk of Alzheimers?”

    Since we have that established, lets look at motive. Why would anyone care to write about the connection between bed bugs and global warming? What WOULD in fact be more intellectually curious, more honest, and more open minded, would be an article titled “What Butterflies Have to Do with Global Warming?” which talks about Monarch butterfly populations benefiting from less harsh winters.

    Instead, Maria Rodale, publisher of An Inconvenient Truth with a hurricane on the cover, decided to make an attempt to connect bed bug (icky icky bad bad bad) resurgence with global warming via CO2 for the purpose of putting a sour taste in our mouths, because it’s much easier to sell hype and hysteria than it is to give everything a fair consideration – you know, ACTUAL intellectual curiosity and open mindedness.

    A positive story, or a silver lining story (butterflies), will never appear on this site despite the fact that such a story would challenge the status quo and actually get people to think about how such a complex issue such as global warming affects people, negatively AND positively.

  13. Laura B. July 14, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    ah! I see, Alex, you are POLITICALLY motivated. That’s why your voice resonates so stridently & frantically. You are a climate-change naysayer. It explains everything.

  14. maria (farm country kitchen) July 14, 2010 at 7:36 am #

    They always show up like this when I put “global warming” or “climate change” in the title. Especially on Huffington Post! It’s very predictable.

  15. Beau Friedlander July 14, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    My sister-in-law is an entomologist. Will ask!

  16. Alex July 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm #


    Maria Rodale, the flustered, embarrassed CEO, who just stated that she would not be commenting further, just pounced on what appeared to be an out – that I’m a “climate change naysayer.”

    Yet I previously posted the following, “What WOULD in fact be more intellectually curious, more honest, and more open minded, would be an article titled “What Butterflies Have to Do with Global Warming?” which talks about Monarch butterfly populations benefiting from less harsh winters.”

    So as you can plainly see, I just gave an example of global warming having an affect on something, thereby acknowledging the existence of said phenomenon.

    Laura B writes, “ah! I see, Alex, you are POLITICALLY motivated. That’s why your voice resonates so stridently & frantically. You are a climate-change naysayer. It explains everything.”

    So that makes two people with a deficient reading comprehension skills. What is ironic is that I [emphasis] was the one who called out the political motivation of such posts. They’re so desperately and embarrassingly motivated by politics that the CEO fallaciously tries to link the obscure inconvenience known as bed bugs with global warming.

    I’ll conclude with a bit of wisdom on the subject:

    Having a false understanding of climate change is only marginally better than denying it even exists.

    I look forward to a response from the entomologist, though it isn’t even needed.

  17. BugEye August 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    Hi All:

    I’m another Laura B, and Beau’s sister-in-law the entomologist. I’m neither a bedbug specialist, nor a climate change specialist. My area of expertise is integrated pest management for vineyards.

    What I can tell you is insect population dynamics are usually pretty complex. We all have heard predictions regarding increased CO2 effects on plants (it will increase their growth), and other predictions regarding climate change.

    There are, from what I can guess, many variables affecting bedbug populations. I would tend to agree that increased CO2 would probably be among the more trivial of these, if not an outright population depressing factor due to the masking of targets’ CO2. As I said, I’m not a bedbug expert, but what comes to mind would be decreased use of cheap, long residual pesticides (didn’t airlines used to mist the cabin with bugsprays?). The very long residual pesticides such as DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbon class materials are no longer used in most countries, and the materials that may have replaced them (probably pyrethrin/pyrethroid products) can have resistance developed to them.

    I won’t even touch change in travel patterns, etc, but it seems a likely place to find further relevant variables regarding bedbug population changes.

    Peace (except to bedbugs).

  18. Papaspepprs August 3, 2010 at 4:28 pm #


  19. Beau Friedlander August 11, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    Okay the answer I got from my entomologist friend is that there is more of a correlation with population increases and possibly the correlative increase in AC ducts where the critters live and breed. Also there is probably a connection between pesticide use and their increase. So, perhaps the solution is to find a non-chemical way to get rid of them. What is the pied piper of bed bugs, pray tell?

  20. Beau Friedlander August 11, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    Okay, I just noticed that she already posted here. I need another vacation!!! 🙂

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