December 15, 2011
Keep Arms And Legs Hairy To Keep Bed Bugs Away
Looking to avoid confrontations with bed bugs? You will be better off not shaving your legs according to researchers in the UK.
Twenty-nine volunteers bravely tested the theory by Michael Siva-Jothy, from Sheffield University´s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, BBC News is reporting. Siva-Jothy found that more layers of both long and short body hair near the surface appeared to work as a deterrent to the blood-sucking insects, with the finer hairs acting as an early warning system.
Siva-Jothy explains, “Our findings show that more body hairs mean better detection of parasites - the hairs have nerves attached to them and provide us with the ability to detect displacement.”
“The results have implications for understanding why we look the way we do, what selective forces might have driven us to look the way we do, and may even provide insight for better understanding of how to reduce biting insects´ impact on humans.”
However do not make the assumption that men will be less bothered by the insects than women, who generally have less body hair than men. Research is proving that men do not appear to be bitten less often, The Daily mail reports.
Siva-Jothy added that extreme hairiness might also be more of a disadvantage than an advantage despite the logic of the theory, “If you have a heavy coat of long thick hairs it is easier for parasites to hide, even if you can detect them.”
“Our proposal is that we retain the fine covering because it aids detection and if we lost all hair, even the relatively invisible fine hair, our detection ability goes right down.”
Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist and professor at the University of Reading, said that biting parasites remain a major cause of disease and death worldwide, making them a potentially enormous evolutionary pressure on early man.
“This vellus hair is certainly no use for anything else, so it is a reasonable hypothesis that it developed in response to a strong selective pressure in our past. Mammals are unique in developing this wonderful fur, and humans are the only mammals to jettison it, so there must have been a very good reason to do so.”
The researchers are investigating the biology, reproduction and immunity of blood-sucking insects with the aim to find more effective controls for parasitic insects and the diseases they spread.
Results of the research are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
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