Article by Tulsa bed bug specialist
Some would say that Christopher Columbus discovered America. Some would say he didn’t but regardless of what he discovered, he brought over many items. Of those items, some may have been bed bugs. A letter from the mayflower shipping crew had reported itchy skin, Biting insects, and sightings of bugs as they slept on the ship to the New World. bed bugs were common among Europe’s colonies, although the name bed bug came centuries later. These new bloodsucking creatures wEre common among working-class citizens of the old country. Native Americans never incorporated the word “ pest” into their languages until after the mayflower and other ships arrived in the new land.
The book Studies in Insect Life and other Essays suggest the parasites were passengers on the mayflower.
“Cimex the Latin word for bed bugs is particularly common in ships, especially emigrant ships, and although unknown to the aboriginal Indians of North America, it probably entered that continent with the ‘best families in the ‘Mayflower.’”
Bed bugs and other parasites pest come along for the ride as well as lice and cockroaches. According to the book Insect Biodiversity, 13 different types of insects and parasites came from England.
While it’s probably hard to say Christopher Columbus is totally to blame for bringing over bed bugs, it’s definitely feasible that while bringing over his crew, gifts, and items along with them hitchhikers such as bedbugs would be on board. Nevertheless, Eventually, somebody would have brought them. With today’s cheap travel and the world economy, a bed bug epidemic was bound to happen whether the Mayflower was the first ship to come or the last.
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