Friday, December 15, 2006

Bedbug or Bed Bug?

I've often wondered, as I write this blog, is the proper spelling bed bug or bedbug? Sure, it's a minor concern in the face of all the crap we must worry about, but it's still a question to which few have the answer.

Well, I came across an article in the Village Voice by Mara Altman that seemed to clear things up. Here's a quote from that feature article, which by the way is an interesting read if you have the time (you know how long those Voice feature articles can be, and this is no exception). And if you don't have the time, you can read the fun excerpts below:

"Sorkin went to the Bug Off convention the next day as part of his ongoing
efforts to ensure that his information is the latest. As Branscome strode up,
the male exterminators whistled and clapped as if she were their favorite
comic-book hero come to life. The first issue she addressed is one that has
mystified us all: Is it bedbugs, or bed bugs? According to this expert, it's two
words in the United States and one word in Europe (in direct opposition to
Village Voice style). With information like that, the $100 entrance fee has
already paid for itself. "

Here the article focuses on the stigma caused by bed bugs:

"In a city where people already depend on Ambien for a good night's sleep, the
thought of bedbugs has wreaked havoc on circadian rhythms from homeless shelters
to $2 million loft apartments. The thought of them is making people itch—not the
bedbugs themselves, whose numbers don't even quite live up to the media hype.
What has yet to be quantified—but what has become an urban infestation of its
own—is the paranoia that the bedbug craze has produced. It turns out, perhaps no
surprise in a city as neurotically obsessed as New York, that something as small
as a bedbug can grow colossal in the minds of millions.
The stigma alone is enough to make hardened city dwellers cringe and cry on Eisenberg's shoulder. He begins each office visit by walking new clients over to a sliver of mirror around the corner from his desk. "Repeat after me," he says as he forces the victims to study their reflection. "I'm not a dirty person." Then he offers them a shot of scotch from a bottle he keeps in his filing cabinet. It's an equal-opportunity bug, he explains. The bugs find a 40-year-old pediatric neurosurgeon on the Lower East Side equally appetizing as a 27-year-old comedian in midtown. In the world of bedbugs, a big-time entrepreneur on the Upper East Side has nothing on a twentysomething unemployed actor. A successful movie director on the Upper West Side shares equal ground with a 22-year-old starving grad student. All the bugs are looking for is a drop of blood, and each of us has about five liters. In a city of 8 million, that's 10,566,882 gallons of bedbug food. Is it any wonder we're terrified?"

The article also covered an exterminator's convention where among the topics discussed there was creative, chemical methods of rendering bed bugs unable to mate and therefore reproduce.

"Anti-Viagra: That's what Linares calls one of his most promising bedbug-fighting pesticides. The pesticide was originally used for cockroaches; it freezes them in an adolescent phase so they never could mate. But Linares found the substance does something different to bedbugs. It shrinks their appendages, making them unable to harden up and penetrate. I didn't ask what the substance does to bipedal mammals."



Anonymous said...


Bed bug vs bedbug.

I have to disagree.

Any insect in the Order Hempitera by convention is spelled as two words if the name bug appears.

Bed bugs fit this description.

Ladybugs do not.

This is the same for flies. If they are in the Order Diptera they are two words.

House Fly is an example.

Dragonfly is not in the Order Diptera.

Entomologist / Pest Professional

Anonymous said...

I did a quick search for family Cimicidae, and both "bedbug" and "bed bug" are used even on professional web sites, and here are a few professional sites that use "bedbug":,9171,787534,00.html

At this point, I don't think such conclusion has been reached that it is incorrect to use "bedbug".


Mohammed said...

These are roles to name an insect otherwise; we will have millions of names for one bug. Ladybug, Ladybird and lady beetle are the same things. These are beetles belong to the family Coccinelidae. Lady beetle two words because it is actually a beetle but if we use ladybug it is one word because it is not a bug (Hemiptera) it is still a beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinelidae).
I do understand where you are coming from, but entomologically, it is wrong to say bedbug one word even if professional websites are using it

If I have more time, I will prove it to you