Do You Know What a Bedbug Looks Like? Many Hotel Patrons Don't

iStock
iStock

Bedbugs are making their way back into modern life. Though the hard-to-shake pests were a relatively uncommon sight in the U.S. in the latter half of the 20th century, for the past few decades, they've been making a raging comeback, in part because of pesticide resistance. But despite their newfound prevalence, most people may have trouble picking the wide-ranging blood-suckers out of a lineup.

The New York Times reports that in a recent U.S. survey, as many of two-thirds of hotel visitors failed to identify a bedbug out of a group of other bug silhouettes. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Kentucky, asked about 2000 people, both business and leisure travelers, if they could pick out which of these insects was a bedbug.

Five different silhouettes of insects

Penn et. al, American Entomologist (2017)

Only 28 percent of leisure travelers and 35 percent of business travelers picked the right bug. Forty-two percent of leisure travelers and 29 percent of business travelers didn't even guess, picking the "I don’t know" option. (The correct answer is No. 4.)

The lack of understanding about bedbugs could have implications for spreading infestations. Only a third of travelers said they checked their hotel rooms for bedbugs before settling in. Not being able to recognize the bugs, though, could also lead to false alarms. People might panic over seeing a bug in their house and call an exterminator, only to find that it was something relatively innocuous. (University of Kentucky entomologist Michael Potter told the Times that people will bring him raisins and ask if they're bedbugs.)

And if people start panicking over a hotel infestation that doesn't exist, the hotel's reputation can suffer significantly. "Our findings indicate that a single online report of bed bugs adversely impacts future bookings, irrespective of whether the review is accurate," the researchers write.

Even if most people can’t recognize a bedbug, they certainly don’t want to sleep anywhere near one.

[h/t The New York Times]

Why Is Pee Yellow?

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Do you have a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com.

Your body is kind of like a house. You bring things into your body by eating, drinking, and breathing. But just like the things we bring home to real houses, we don’t need every part of what we take in. So there are leftovers, or garbage. And if you let garbage sit around in your house or your body for too long, it gets gross and can make you sick. Your body takes out the garbage by peeing and pooping. These two things are part of your body’s excretory system (ECKS-krih-tore-eee SISS-tem), which is just a fancy way of saying “trash removal.” If your body is healthy, when you look in the toilet you should see brown poop and yellow pee.

Clear, light yellow pee is a sign that your excretory system and the rest of your body are working right. If your pee, or urine (YER-inn), is not see-through, that might mean you are sick. Dark yellow urine usually means that you aren’t drinking enough water. On the other hand, really pale or colorless pee can mean you might be drinking too much water! 

Your blood is filtered through two small organs called kidneys (KID-knees). Remember the garbage we talked about earlier? The chemicals called toxins (TOCK-sins) are like garbage in your blood. Your kidneys act like a net, catching the toxins and other leftovers and turning them into pee.

One part of your blood is called hemoglobin (HEE-moh-gloh-bin). This is what makes your blood red. Hemoglobin goes through a lot of changes as it passes through your body. When it reaches your kidneys, it turns yellow thanks to a chemical called urobilin (yer-ah-BY-lin). Urobilin is kind of like food coloring. The more water you add, the lighter it will be. That's why, if you see dark yellow pee in the toilet, it's time to ask your mom or dad for a cup of water. 

To learn more about pee, check out this article from Kids Health. 

Why Don’t We Fall Off the Earth?

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asksHave a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com.

Do you know the saying “what goes up, must come down”? There’s a lot of truth to that. No matter how hard you hit that baseball or how high you get on the swings, you’re not going to make it into space (without a spaceship, of course). This is because of something called gravity (GRAV-it-ee). Gravity is the force that keeps you (and all your toys) from floating into space. 

The Earth’s gravity is a force that works kind of like a magnet. When you jump in the air, you come back down because gravity is pulling you towards the center of the Earth. Gravity does a lot more than just keep your feet on the ground. The strong pull of planets has created whole solar systems and galaxies. The Earth's gravity pulls in the Moon, which orbits (or circles) around it. Objects that orbit planets are called satellites (SAT-uh-lights). Some other planets have one or more moons of their own. The largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, has 63 known moons! The Sun also has a gravitational (grav-uh-TAY-shun-ull) pull. It pulls all the planets in our solar system around it. Just like the Moon circles the Earth, the Earth circles the Sun.   

This force is something that all objects have—even you! The reason you don’t have tiny objects stuck to you is because you’re not big enough to have a strong enough pull. Even really big things like whales aren’t large enough to have a gravitational pull. Only really, really big things like stars, planets, and moons have it. 

The Moon is big enough to have its own pull. Its gravity tugs on the Earth's oceans. That's why we have ocean tides. But the Moon's gravity isn't as strong as the Earth’s. That’s why the astronauts who visited the Moon were able to jump really high. If those same astronauts went to a bigger planet, like Jupiter, the gravity would be a lot stronger. There, they would feel much heavier, and they wouldn't be able to jump much at all. People in spaceships are not near anything with a big gravitational force, so they can float in the air inside the spaceship. 

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