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Ancient Bed Bugs Discovered In Oregon

Bedbugs have been wreaking havoc in the Northwest for more than 10,000 years. The oldest fossilized evidence of the parasitic insects has been discovered in a cave in southern Oregon.

Somewhere between 5,000 and 11,000 years ago, bed bugs fed on bats that roosted in caves near Paisley, Oregon. 

“The bed bugs that we know from hotel rooms became a parasite of humans long ago, thousands of years ago, in the Old World, when people were living in caves with bats in them,” archeo-entomologist Martin Adams said.

His recent discovery was accidental. Amid samples of plant material, pollen and sediments collected from the caves he discovered 14 really old bed bugs. 

“I think part of the problem, at least is archaeologists don’t really go looking for these sorts of things,” Adams said.

He said the same species of bed bugs found in Paisley Caves are still alive today. Previously, the oldest documented bed bug lived in Egypt, just over 3,500 years ago.

The new discovery is reported in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

This fossil, the abdomen of a female Cimex latipennis, is approximately 9,700 years old. 
Martin Adams /
This fossil, the abdomen of a female Cimex latipennis, is approximately 9,700 years old. 

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Emily Schwing
Emily Schwing comes to the Inland Northwest by way of Alaska, where she covered social and environmental issues with an Arctic spin as well as natural resource development, wildlife management and Alaska Native issues for nearly a decade. Her work has been heard on National Public Radio’s programs like “Morning Edition” and “All things Considered.” She has also filed for Public Radio International’s “The World,” American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” and various programs produced by the BBC and the CBC. She has also filed stories for Scientific American, Al Jazeera America and Arctic Deeply.