• Chelle Hartzer

Clickbait Headlines (AKA: Eau de pest)

I try not to be overly critical of people’s writing. If you have never had to write an article or a fact-based blog, let me tell you, it can be tough. Most times when I catch something that is poorly written or just ridiculous from a factual standpoint, I just close the window and move on with my life. If people want to believe the clickbait headlines and sketchy info in an article, that’s on them. However, these types of articles show what type of misinformation we, as professionals, have to dispel. So join me on this journey of article interpretation!

I didn’t even make it past the title before I saw problems with this:

The headline is obviously a bit of a click-bait headline and that isn’t totally bad. You want to write a catchy headline to draw people in. I did have a problem with their fact checking. Click on the box and it says their “content is fact checked or reviewed by medical professionals”. I don’t know too many medical professionals that have a lot of entomological knowledge or experience. And Ms. Hogan is a “Brooklyn based writer” so not much in the way of an entomology background there either. While the term “exterminator” is fine, I much prefer the term “professional”.

Wait a minute here… so it’s not one smell, it could be almost anything depending on who you are? That’s not all that helpful. Also: “Orkin says”. I really doubt they surveyed the entire company so who exactly at Orkin said this? While I will not argue that bed bug infestations can smell (they do have pheromones), there are plenty of items that could have a musty and sweet smell. The one point I do agree with is that they say the infestation has to be fairly large for most people to pick up the smell. There is no way you are going to smell a single bed bug in a room.


Once again, the smell is going to be there if there is a severe infestation. If there is a severe infestation, you are going to SEE the bed bugs, likely lots of droppings as well. At this point, you don’t need to sniff them to find out if you have an issue, you have SEEN the issue. Additionally, we have somehow gone from a musty scent to a spicy (coriander) scent.

Now we have: musty, sweet, spicy, moldy, pleasant, and stinky. For someone who doesn’t know much about bed bugs, this is a pretty wide range of smells. To add to that, many of these scents can normally be found in rooms that aren’t infested with bed bugs. I would be interested to know how many people Jordan Foster had smelling bed bugs to know that some people (how many is some?) find it pleasant and how he excluded all other scents in the room.

While this article wasn’t all bad (it did stress calling in a professional), there was no scientific backing to any of the claims. The claim that you could smell bed bugs isn’t untrue, but the descriptions the article provided of those smells varied widely. Considering most people don’t know what a bed bug looks like, a much better piece would have been describing and educating people on bed bugs, not trying to tell them what bed bugs smell like. Particularly because by the time the smell is really noticeable, the infestation is widespread and you can literally see the bed bugs.


What’s your favorite piece of poor information or misinformation on pests? Comment below! And to learn more about how we can help you with ongoing bed bug issues at your site(s), contact us here.


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