Tropical bed bugs are back in Florida after disappearing for 60 years


If you thought 2016 couldn't get any worse, well, these tropical bed bugs have some news for you.

Florida Today reports researchers from the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences confirmed the foul bugs are back in Florida after a 60-year absence. That might not sound all that newsworthy until you learn they spread faster than your everyday bed bug, which could cause an infestation in the state and the rest of the South. The bug was first found in a home on Merritt Island.

"I personally believe that in Florida, we have all of the right conditions that could potentially help spread tropical bed bugs, which is the case in other southern states," says Brittany Campbell, a doctoral student in entomology at UF, in a statement. "As long as you have people traveling and moving bed bugs around, there is a real potential for this species to spread and establish in homes and other dwellings."

The newspaper reports that aside from feeding on human blood, a severe infestation can cause "fear, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and itchy, blistery reactions on some people."

Campbell tell Florida Today that researchers don't know how the bug got in Brevard County, but suspect it could have been through Port Canaveral.

Researchers are asking the public to send them samples of suspected tropical bed bugs for identification. If you think you caught one, you can send it to Campbell at the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department on 1881 Natural Area Drive in Gainesville. Put the insect, dead or alive, in a small plastic container or sealed in a folded plastic bag to cushion the big from being smashed.

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