Bed bugs have long been associated with humans, they have even been found in occupation sites from the time of the Pharaohs, dating back to around 1350 BCE.
In fact, bed bugs were once very widespread, and extremely prevalent, with estimates of up to 70% of British homes in the past having an active infestation. Perhaps it is then not surprising that anecdotal stories through history involving bed bugs are quite common. The following is a small selection.
It is claimed by John Crannell in 1873, that when Nero set fire to Rome, it was due to bed bugs. Apparently, the emperor spent a wretched night on his lectulus (his bed – note the similar name to the species lectularius), woke and found a bed bug on his pillow. In an attempt to burn the insect, he set fire to the mosquito netting, and so the fire began.
According to A New Manual of Homoeopathic Practice by F.G. Snelling, published in 1860, one of the side-effects of bed bug bites includes the production of frequent erections in the morning. Perhaps bed bugs will become the new Viagra!