Today in Research: Bed Bugs Are Inbreeding; Climate Change Update

Discovered: how far cockroaches can jump, a lifespan myth debunked, glass half-full on cancer prevention and, yes, bed bugs get even more gross.

  • Bed bugs are winning. And they're even grosser than you thought. Most city dwellers have their own terrible infestation stories, so at this point it's hard to see how America's "bed bug" problem could get any more disgusting. "A team of entomologists led by Coby Schal and Ed Vargo of North Carolina State University studied the genes of bed bugs infesting three multistory apartment buildings in North Carolina and New Jersey and found very low genetic diversity -- meaning most of them were very close relatives," reported Reuters. As in: bed bugs are inbreeding. And some of them have been infected with a "superbug" germ. Sounds even more like a bad horror flick. [Reuters]
  • A climate change sign or maybe just an interesting fact about National Park attendance. Not all climate change-themed research needs to be scary to be interesting. Here's a study from UNC researchers that is tenuously linking earlier peak attendance at National Parks with what they guess is changing weather over the last 30 years. "For example, peak attendance at Grand Canyon National Park shifted from July 4 in 1979 to June 24 in 2008." They found the same pattern at other parks that "experienced significant increases in mean spring temperatures" (i.e. parks got warmer earlier during the past three decades). What does this tell us? Maybe nothing. There could be plenty of reasons other than changing weather patterns, as they concede. But, from the release, it appears that the team is just offering the study as a data point in a larger research vein. [University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]

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