The last time a tropical bedbug was confirmed in Florida, the average price of a new home was less than $10,000, and Perry Como topped the charts. But USA Today reports this jacked-up cousin of the regular bedbug has now apparently made a reappearance in the Sunshine State, after a home in Brevard County became overrun with the pests in 2015 (so far the only confirmed case in the state). Experts worry the insect has the potential to cause worse damage than its annoying relative. "This species [could] develop more quickly, possibly cause an infestation problem sooner, and also could spread more rapidly," Brittany Campbell, a University of Florida doctoral student who headed a study on the bug published in the Florida Entomologist journal in September, says in a release.
The last time the insect had been spotted in Florida was in the 1940s, per the Entomology Today website. Campbell says when she and her colleagues were sent a sample last year from the Merritt Island family whose house had been infested, they noticed it had a pronotum, or neck region, that was shaped differently than the garden-variety bedbug, which led to its discovery. The homeowners told the researchers they hadn't traveled outside of the state, meaning the insect likely had to be local or from another part of Florida. As for how the bugs got back to Florida, Campbell speculates they may have arrived via Brevard County's Port Canaveral. The release notes tropical bedbugs can cause similar health problems as regular bedbugs, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, itchy blisters, and (naturally) fear. (A scientist suffered 180,000 bedbug bites on purpose.)