Bed Bug Tattoo Gun Is Latest In Temporary Body Art

Amateur Tattoo Artist Lets Bed Bugs Do The Work

When Matt Camper decided to get a temporary tattoo, he was bugged by the end result -- literally.

Camper, an urban entomologist at Colorado State University, decided to mark his body not with ink or henna, but with the bites of thousands of hungry bed bugs.

In an upcoming episode of "Outrageous Acts of Science," which airs Saturdays on the Science Channel, Camper shows off a "bed bug tattoo gun" he made from a jar, wire mesh and, of course, the aforementioned bed bugs.

There is a bunny rabbit pattern on top of the part of the jar that allows the bugs access to human flesh when Camper puts it on his skin.

Biologist Carin Bodnar says when the bugs are biting, they inject what’s called a stylet.

"There's two tubes here, and through one of these tubes they're sending in their saliva, and the saliva has both an anticoagulant -- a chemical that actually keeps the blood from clotting up -- and also an anesthetic, so this is really good because whoever they're biting, in this case Matt, can’t feel it," she explains on the series.

Wildlife expert Ellie Harrison said that the bed bug tattoo needs a couple hours before it really shows up on the skin.

"Two hours after the bed bugs have fed, the inflammatory response really kicks in and immune cells, like cytokines and histamines, will flood into the tissues from the blood, producing redness and swelling and heat," she says on the show.

The idea of turning bed bugs into tattoo artists is kind of cool, but biologist Chris Krishna-Pillay disagrees with Camper's choice of design.

"If you're going to get bitten by a thousand bed bugs, a bunny rabbit is really a bit soft," he says on the episode. "You'd got to go for something a bit harder, maybe a skull and crossbones," he says on the episode.

All good things must come to an end and so must bed bug tattoos. Camper said it lasted about two weeks before fading away.

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