Swallows and Bed-Bugs

One hundred years ago, an ornithologist confessed that one, at least, of his beliefs had been shaken. He published a paper about it:

Swallows and Bed-Bugs,” Edward R. Warren, The Condor, 1913, Vol.15(1), pp.14-16.

IN MY paper in the May-June CONDOR, 1912, entitled “Some North-central Colorado Bird Notes,” I referred to the belief that swallows harbor bed-bugs as ridiculous; and now I have to confess that possibly I did not know as much as I thought I did, a not uncommon failing with us all. Some time after the paper was published, W. Leon Dawson in a very courteous letter, called my attention to the fact that he had found Cliff Swallows‘ nests badly infested with bed-bugs, in one case so much so that the colony had been deserted. He reported this in “The Birds of Washington,” page 333. This started me to looking into the matter, something I had not done before, and as it would seem that not very many are posted on the subject, and in fact but little definite has been published that I have been able to find, I have thought it worth while to write up what little I have been able to learn about the matter, together with a few observations of my own, in the hope that it may be the means of bringing out further information.

I found that a bug (Acanthia hirundinis), belonging to the same genus as the true bed-bug (Acanthia lectularia), is parasitic on swallows, pigeons, chickens, and bats. It should perhaps be stated that the French authority, L. Gedoelst, places it in another genus because of certain structural differences, calling it Oeciacus hirundinis….