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Baking Luggage May Be the Next Big Thing in Bedbug Control

Souvenirs used to be such a happy thing. Vacationers would come home with tans, tacky gifts, and noticeably happier attitudes. These days, travelers have to worry about a different type of souvenir altogether: bedbugs. Researchers have been trying to stop the pests’ spread for years, to little avail. But now an entomologist says she may have found a way: blasting the little bloodsuckers briefly with intense heat. She published her report in the journal Pest Management Science. 

Catherine Loudon studies ecology and evolutionary science at the University of California, Irvine. In an experiment that might have given someone else the heebie-jeebies, Loudon loosed 250 bedbugs on a soft-sided suitcase, then subjected it to various high temperatures for varying periods of time, all the while watching the bedbugs’ behavior.

The results included lots of good news. First, within the entire period of heat treatment, only one bug managed to actually get inside the bag, and he managed that by climbing through a closed zipper. Second, and more importantly, Loudon found that it only took six minutes of high heat (between 158°F and 167°F) to kill all 250 bugs—without damaging anything inside the luggage. 

Now for the not-great news. For the very reason outlined just above, this blast-furnace technique only works on bugs on the surface of a suitcase, not within it. And while this technique works, no company is currently producing a bedbug broiler for returning vacationers. Such a device is in development; in fact, Loudon used the prototype in her experiments. But rather than selling it directly to consumers, she says the manufacturer should consider providing the machine at the highest-risk sites: airports and hotels. 

Until then, try not to worry about it too much. The situation is mostly out of our control, but there are some things you can do. Before booking a hotel room, check online reviews to ensure the place hasn’t had any recent outbreaks. Immediately after check-in, deposit your luggage in the bathtub, then do a visual inspection of all cloth-covered furniture in the room. Keep your clothes and luggage off the floor and off the bed. And when you get home, quarantine your belongings in sealed plastic bags and leave them outside. We’ll get through this. 

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Food
Finnish Food Company Launches The World's First Insect-Based Bread
Fazer
Fazer

A Finnish food company has created a protein-packed bread using an unusual natural ingredient: crickets. It's billed as the world's first insect-based bread to ever be sold in stores, according to Reuters.

In September 2017, Finnish officials approved the cultivation and sale of insects as food. But Fazer Food Services in Helsinki has been testing a bread that contained flour, seeds, and "flour" made from dried crickets long before than decision. The company waited for Finland to give bug food products the go-ahead before officially launching their product in late November.

"We wanted to be in the forefront of food revolution," said Markus Hellström, Fazer Bakery Finland's managing director, in a news release. Plus, he added, "Finns are known to be willing to try new things, and the Fazer Cricket Bread is an easy way to get a feel of food of the future."

A single loaf of cricket bread will set customers back nearly $5. Each contains around 70 crushed crickets, which are currently sourced from the Netherlands. Currently, there's not enough cricket flour for Fazer to conduct nationwide sales, so the company is rolling the product out in stages. Just 11 locations in the Helsinki metro area sell Fazer Cricket Bread right now, with plans to eventually offer it in all 47 Fazer in-store bakeries.

Cricket bread has more protein than the typical baked good, plus it's believed be more environmentally friendly to boot. And Fazer company officials believe that Finns, in particular, are willing to bite.

The world "needs new and sustainable sources of nutrition,” said Juhani Sibakov, Fazer Bakery Finland's director of innovation, in the statement. “According to research, of all the Nordic countries, Finns have the most positive attitudes towards insects.”

[h/t Reuters]

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Which Rooms In Your Home Have the Most Types of Bugs, According to Entomologists 
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iStock

Insects can make any home their own, so long as it contains cracks, doors, and windows for them to fly, wriggle, or hitchhike their way in. And it turns out that the creepy crawlers prefer your living room over your kitchen, according to a new study that was recently highlighted by The Verge.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study looked at 50 homes in Raleigh, North Carolina, to measure their insect populations. Entomologists from both North Carolina State University and the California Academy of Sciences ultimately discovered more than 10,000 bugs, both alive and dead, and a diverse array of species to boot.

The most commonly observed bugs were harmless, and included ladybugs, silverfish, fruit flies, and book lice. (Luckily for homeowners, pests like bedbugs, termites, and fleas were scarcer.) Not all rooms, though, contained the same distribution of many-legged residents.

Ground-floor living rooms with carpets and windows tended to have the most diverse bug populations, as the critters had easy access inside, lots of space to live in, and a fibrous floor habitat that could be either a cozy homestead or a death trap for bugs, depending on whether they got stuck in it. The higher the floor level, the less diverse the bug population was, a fact that could be attributed to the lack of doors and outside openings.

Types of bugs that were thought to be specific to some types of rooms were actually common across the board. Ants and cockroaches didn’t limit themselves to the kitchen, while cellar spiders were present in all types of rooms. As for moths and drain flies, they were found in both common rooms and bathrooms.

Researchers also found that “resident behavior such as house tidiness, pesticide usage, and pet ownership showed no significant influence on arthropod community composition.”

The study isn’t representative of all households, since entomologists studied only 50 homes within the same geographical area. But one main takeaway could be that cohabiting bugs “are an inevitable part of life on Earth and more reflective of the conditions outside homes than the decisions made inside,” the researchers concluded. In short, it might finally be time to make peace with your itty-bitty housemates.

[h/t The Verge]

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