They’re the invisible, blood-thirsty invaders who swarm around while we sleep and like to get under our skin.
But having hairy arms or legs can keep the bed bugs at bay, according to new research from the University of Sheffield.
A covering of sensitive, fine hair can help us feel the parasitic insects burrowing into our skin and provide a natural barrier to stop them biting.
Researchers at the university’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences found 29 volunteers for the experiment, which involved them having one arm shaved and the other left naturally, before ravenous bed bugs were placed on their skin.
The university team found that those with more layers of longer and near-invisible, fine hairs (vellus) on their arms prolonged the insects’ search for an ideal feeding ground and, in turn, increased their chances of detection.
The research also concluded that bed bugs and other parasites, including mosquitoes, midges, ticks and leeches, prefer less hirsute parts of the body such as ankles and wrists.