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Science Corner: Eastside, Westside, Carbon Dioxide

Posted: October 17th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

By now we all know bedbugs come running for the great taste of people juice, but do you know how our new blood sucking overlords find us in the dark?

In a line so precious I had to lift it straight from one of our source articles, those parasitic little bundles of fun are attracted to us gravy trains by our exhaled “plumes of concentrated carbon dioxide” (PLUMES oh I love you bedbugs).

But JRN, I hear you mumbling between gooey handfuls of drug store mac & cheese, what can I do with this information? Well don’t you worry your pretty little head, that’s what smart people from other countries come to American universities for! True to form, Wan-Tien Tsai and Changlu Wang of Rutgers have taken this fact and created a makeshift bed bug monitoring rig worth a look.

Dry ice; check. 1/3 gallon jug; check. Cat food dish; check. Talcum powder; check. Paper to make itty bitty bedbug ramp (for serious); check.

What do I have to work with?

We're trapped in a bedbug infested bedroom with a fire extinguisher and 18 tampons...but the lease isn't up for MONTHS!

By placing the dry ice in the jug and keeping the spout just slightly open, the small carbon dioxide stream of an exhaling mammal (PLUMES!) may be simulated. This jug is placed atop the overturned cat dish, the inside walls of which have been treated with the talcum powder for extra slipperiness. An adorable ramp is added, half to assist the bedbugs up the side of the dish and half to assist you in narrowing your eyes and cackling away in anticipation of luring dozens of small ignorant creatures to their deaths. Well, capture anyway.

If this detector comes across as a little too…Rube Goldberg for your tastes, consider the cost: a startling $15. Add to that the possibility that this little number may actually outperform professional monitors, and I’m sold.

For complete instructions to the bed bug monitor devised by Wan-Tien Tsai and Changlu Wang, visit the Detecting Bed Bugs Using Bug Monitors page at the Rutgers University website, and download the accompanying 3 page PDF.

For instructions that have nothing to do with bedbugs yet still may prove useful in life or death situations, try this: MacGyver – The Complete First Season

Science Corner: Luminol I See

Posted: October 7th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

For this week’s science corner, we’ll slip n’ slide our way across blood-slicked rugs, peer knowingly at questionable wall spatter, and delve into recent popular suggestions that Luminol, a chemical usually reserved for crime scene investigations, may work as a first line indicator of bedbug invasions.

If you’ve never plunked your rump in front of a prime time cop procedural drama or appeared before the odd grand jury, Luminol is a blood detection agent liberally spritzed around wherever you’re on to the real killer but just need a little DNA evidence.

It works like this: Luminol reacts when introduced to an oxidizer, a compound which can deliver oxygen. Hemoglobin is the iron content in red blood cells used to carry oxygen throughout the body. Therefore when the Luminol sprayed on the bedroom floor is oxidized by the traces of hemoglobin from even invisible or old blood, the result is a chemically induced glow, also known as chemiluminescence. If you’re really interested in the chem lab fun about REACTIONS, science science, tldr;.

So the hidden gore has been revealed, and at this point, David Caruso will whip off his sunglasses, furrow his brow, and remark that he hasn’t seen that much blood since that episode where that incredibly bloody thing happened. And wasn’t that terrible, that thing that happened. Don’t you know he has a SON?

What was that ten dollar word again? Ah yes, chemiluminescence. If I’m not mistaken we’ve all been introduced, and then relentlessly exposed, to the merits of glow-in-a-bottle recently.

Chemiluminescence alerts you to the presence of a dirty little hamster.

Chemiluminescence is best observed in a darkened room, FYI. We say pitch black, please.

So the theory goes that this morbid glowstick technology sprinkled atop your finest Frette linens will out any bedbug fecal matter, as this contains primarily your once delicious blood. This ghastly evidence will show up in dazzling electric blue highlights all over your bedbug afflicted bedding, as if Jackson Pollock worked in the medium of psychedelic Adidas track suit piping.

This certainly sounds like it would work well enough. Some valiant souls at CytoSignet, Inc., have been granted a patent in detecting blood-feeding activity.

However, our staff of highly trained Nixbedbugs.com Imaginixers are having just a dickens of a time figuring out how the hell this might save you time or money. In most cases, the naked eye and your designated bedbug metrocard will do in finding these fecal traces, and the Luminol method saves no time as far as going over all the tucked away nooks and hidden crannies of your bedroom. At no less than $20 a pop, it won’t save you any money either. Not to mention this could very well indicate an infestation of fleas, not bedbugs specifically or exclusively. It’s possible that this could be useful for establishments like hotels or cruise ships with a lot of turnover, but we don’t see much application for the home bedbug sufferer. Although if you really want to play CSI/high school science teacher, have at it, intrepid swain, with this chemiluminescence blue light kit.

And we all know they still don’t put bedbug proof caps on bleach or retail horseradish sauces. Thanks CONGRESS.

But worry not, readers currently worrying! Our internet sleuthing has unearthed a possible early detection method which comes in at around the same price but would save plenty of time and work for those fearing the worst.

What have our seasoned experts at all things blood-filled-feces found? Stay tuned for our next Science Corner for the answer!