Going to bed after having a few drinks may actually keep the bed bugs from biting you, according to a new study.
The latest findings suggest that bed bugs much prefer the blood of a sober sleeper to that of a person who has had an alcoholic drink, according to PhD candidate Ralph Narain from the University of Nebraska, who presented his findings last week to the National Conference on Urban Entomology in Atlanta.
Researchers also added that when bed bugs cannot get a good feed, they also lay fewer eggs, meaning that glass of wine before bedtime could very well be equivalent to not only fewer bites but also fewer bugs.
Narain's experiment involved mixing different amounts of 200 proof ethanol into four samples of blood until he had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of 0.010, 0.025, 0.050 and 0.100. A BAC of 0.08 is the legal limit for driving in many states in the United States. He also had a control sample that contained no alcohol.
Afterwards, he randomly selected 20 adult bed bugs for each blood sample, weighed them, fed them the assigned blood samples, weighed them again and repeated this experiment six times.
The results indicate that beg bugs that were fed clean blood doubled their body mass. However, bugs that were fed the lowest amount of alcohol, 0.010 BAC, increased their mass by just 60 percent, a proportion of growth that gradually decreased for each increase in alcohol content.
Bed bugs that were fed the highest alcoholic sample at .100 BAC gained a measly 12.5 percent body mass.
In terms of reproduction, bed bugs in the control groups laid an average of 44 eggs after gorging themselves, whereas the bugs that fed the highest BAC laid an average of just 12 eggs.
Researchers could not determine whether the alcohol affected the behavior of the adults bugs of their offspring's development, but they plan on measuring both in future studies.
Narain also plans on studying the effect of other drugs or narcotics on the feeding and reproduction cycle of bed bugs.
"[Bed bugs] need a blood meal to grow and to molt and to reproduce," Narain told the website LifesLittleMysteries.com. "And one of their main hosts are humans, and we consume a lot of [alcohol]."
However, Narain said that he does not recommend people to drinking alcohol to control beg bugs, and he warned that while bed bugs do eat and reproduce less on an alcoholic diet, they still lay eggs, and 95 percent of the eggs do hatch.
Other experts say that it is still too early to toast the recent findings as a new method to fight infestations.
"I don't know what sort of implications it has ultimately, because unfortunately they still produce enough eggs to cause an infestation," another expert, Entomologist Dini Miller told the Huffington Post. "So while they feed less, still, we're not going to experience less of a problem. But it's very interesting to know."
"If the bed bugs are still producing, they can cause an infestation. Twelve hatchlings are an infestation right there, and they could increase to a major infestation in about two or four weeks time," exterminator Barry Pollack with Metro Bed Bug Dogs in New York told the Daily News.
Pollack warned that bed bug eggs hatch faster in warmer months.
"My business increases by 30% when the thermometer hits 80 degrees," he told the paper. "My biggest tips to people are to treat their luggage with rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle when they travel and don’t bring in any used furniture."