It has for some time seemed to me that despite being widely present in the country, the bed bug has been sorely underrepresented in the travel literature of Peru. Though the tiny parasite is no doubt familiar with him, the traveler of luxury will find no mention of it in his high-end guidebook. And among the budget travel guides this most faithful of man's parasites has received only occasional discussion. Can we not hope to furnish the intrepid traveler with a few interesting and instructive facts about the bed bug? Gentlemen, I hope so.

Laying in his bed at the hospedaje, it is the resting traveler's exhaled carbon dioxide that tempts the hungry bed bug from its hiding place in the mattress or box spring or crevice along the wall. Youthful bed bugs are fragile creatures, tiny and translucent and scarcely visible, while adults of the fifth nymphal stage are a rich chestnut brown, oval-shaped and flat from top to bottom and, though larger and more visible, can be difficult to crush under a thumb or shoe, and I have often observed them playing dead while waiting for me to leave.

Bed bugs of all maturities emerge at night and begin to move stealthily through bed sheets and clothing and are so light-footed as to go unnoticed as they crawl upon the body of the sleeping host. Selecting a feeding area upon the traveler's legs or back or buttocks, the bed bug pierces the skin with a beak-like proboscis, which he keeps tucked underneath his body when not in use. As he inserts his proboscis he simultaneously secretes an anesthetic saliva to ensure the feeding process is painless for the host and to increase the blood flow. It is a protein in this saliva that will produce the itching raised red welts the traveler will discover the following morning and may convince himself are only the bites of a spider. A bed bug will feed for up to ten minutes and frequently in a linear formation of three bites in succession, a pattern experienced hosts have termed "Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner."

Though by nature elusive and tentative, I have seen bed bugs intoxicated by a blood meal become careless and lose all sense of caution. It is these engorged bed bugs, slow moving and fattened with blood, that I have often discovered and crushed upon the bed sheeting, exploding them into dark red blotches the size of a thumbnail. But the bed bug will also comport himself recklessly when suffering extreme hunger and I have observed them emerging during the daylight to feed and once, in what must certainly have been a desperate act of hunger, to attempt a feeding upon the face and eyelids.

Delirious from a blood meal the bed bug goes into seclusion for ten days to digest, molt into its next nymphal stage, and to mate and lay eggs. The mating process is a most peculiar one termed 'traumatic insemination' and involves the male bed bug mounting the female and with his hypodermic genitalia piercing her abdomen and ejaculating into her body cavity.

Las Chinches continues...
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About Jesse Myner


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Following a good five year run as a futures trader, Jesse Myner does what he wants and goes where he wants to. He has lived in Paris, Budapest, Croatia, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami, and currently splits his time between Bogota and Alaska, where he goes for the salmon run and to hunt caribou with...read more his Inupiat Eskimo friends. He is the author of the story collections Home Depot Profiles In Courage, America South, and Slime Line: Adventures In Fish Processing.
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  7 months ago · in response to Leopold McGinnis

    Same feel Leopold. Questions, questions.
  3 years ago
I really liked this. I felt like it look a really random turn halfway through. Is the author trying to make an (unflattering?) comparison between the girl and the bugs? What was the girl? A prostitute? Why were they asked to leave? Maybe I need to visit Peru to find out.

Despite my unanswered questions,...read more I found this an entertaining and alluring read. Nice work!

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