Jean-Michel Berenger is France's leading bed bug expert who not only studies the tiny red blood-suckers, he also breeds them. And when the little critters refuse to chow down the human-blood-filled capsules Berenger offers them, he kindly lets them feast on his own arm.
From Le Monde:
Human blood heated to 37°C and contained in capsules sealed with paraffine sheeting to imitate skin: This is the feast served up every week by entomologist Jean-Michel Berenger, an entomologist with Marseille's IHU hospital, to his breeding farm of bedbugs, living in flasks 4 centimeters in diameter. …
Confined within accordion-folded pieces of cardboard, hundreds of them swarm: Males, females, and their offspring, in all five stages of development.
But bed bugs aren't stupid — they know where the good stuff is. "We buy these bags, which cannot be used for humans, from the Etablissement Français du Sang (Fance's blood service agency). But when a precious strain doesn't take and eat on these artificial membranes, I feed it by inverting the box onto my arm," the Marseilles-based scientist said.
And Berenger isn't the first passionate entomologist to offer up his own skin and blood for the sake of a hungry bed bug. In 2009, The New York Times interviewed Manhattan's bed bug specialist Lous Sorkin, a "mild-mannered man" in the United States who also thought nothing of presenting his own arm to the hungry red coats. "The colonies live in jars. I feed them about once a month. I invert the jars on my arm and the bugs feed through the screening," he told the Times. "It doesn't hurt. The swelling goes down in an hour or two."