Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Nature | Science

May 16, 2010

The Bedbug King of New York

Entomologist Louis Sorkin, an expert on the urban parasites, tells Gelf why bedbugs love the Big Apple.

Eric Yun

Louis Sorkin, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, feeds his research subjects with his own blood. Sorkin, you see, is one of the world's experts on bedbugs, and he finds it handy to keep a readily available food source nearby.

Letting bedbugs parasitize him is a good way to keep costs and inventory down, but it also lets Sorkin empathize with the thousands of New Yorkers who suffer the bites unwillingly each night. He literally feels their pain. As the creatures—once mostly controlled with heavy use of pesticides such as DDT—make a comeback, the tightly packed urban metropolis of the five boroughs has been a major staging ground for their resurgence.

Louis Sorkin. Photo by Steve Thurston.
"Bedbugs aren't attracted to typical food and water sources of other bugs—they're attracted to you."

Louis Sorkin. Photo by Steve Thurston.

So besides for learning more about bedbugs from a scientific perspective, Sorkin has started working with the city to help find solutions to the scourge. In the following interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, Sorkin tells Gelf what he thinks of bedbug coverage in the media, why the critters aren't class-conscious, and why the little suckers love the Big Apple.

Eric Yun

Eric Yun is getting a second degree in communications and lives in Long Island.

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- Science
- posted on May 18, 10
Philip Stravino

Thank you,Lou Sorkin for all the work you do with bed bug research, I have always enjoyed your input and help you have always given.

- Science
- posted on Oct 03, 10
william s cook

Mr. Sorkim
Would it be possible to obtain from you a container of live bed bugs for use in dog training?
ws cook
Orlando, FL
407 658 7789

Article by Eric Yun

Eric Yun is getting a second degree in communications and lives in Long Island.

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