bedbug bites on Dr. Sorkin's arm
Photo: Daniel Paul Simmons III
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Taking One for the Team

Dr. Louis Sorkin, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, keeps a bedbug colony in a jelly jar. "The female lays her sticky eggs, which cement themselves in. You'll also see black spots of fecal matter, and in infestations you can actually smell them: they sometimes produce a sweet, pungent odor that some people say is like raspberries, coriander, or citronella." When it's dinnertime, Dr. Sorkin offers himself up as a human sacrifice. "After feeding," he says, displaying a circular welt on his arm, "the bugs go into hiding then shed their skins to grow. After each shedding they have to get another blood meal, after which they hide, digest, shed, and get larger until they reach the adult stage, which could take up to two months or longer."
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