This year saw a rash of bedbug infestations worldwide, but scientists are now saying there might be a way of defending against the vermin. While no one seems immune, the more body hair you have, the less attractive you may be to the bloodsucking little critters. Looks like all the men out waxing their chests may have acted a little too hastily.

In a recent study, Professor Michael Siva-Jothy of Sheffield University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences in the UK found that heavier layers of longer visible hairs near the skin’s surface worked as a deterrent to the insects. Finer hairs were also just as effective and acted as an early warning system to the victim.

“Our findings show that more body hairs mean better detection of parasites – the hairs have nerves attached to them and provide us with the ability to detect displacement,” he said.

The study results may also have implications for understanding the evolution of why we look the way we do. Modern humans have lost much of the heavy body hair of our prehistoric ancestors, so it’s possible that insect deflection is a key reason we haven’t become completely hairless.

“Our proposal is that we retain the fine covering because it aids detection,” Siva-Jothy explained. “If we lost all hair, even the relatively invisible fine hair, our [insect] detection ability goes right down.”

[BBC News]

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