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This man got a tattoo by letting thousands of bedbugs bite him at once

This is not for the pain-averse.


Kate Knibbs


Posted on May 12, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 8:08 am CDT

Getting a tattoo hurts. The needle pierces the skin repeatedly to embed the ink in flesh. It requires a thousand tiny jabs to make the body art visible.

If reading that made you squirm, close this page now: We’re about to introduce you to a man who creates body art by unleashing a thousand bedbugs on his skin.

Most temporary tattoos are much less harrowing, just stick-ons or painted designs, nothing permanent and nothing painful. Temporary tattoos are supposed to be the way for wusses like me to sport sick ink without actually dealing with pain (or picking out a permanent fashion statement). But even temporary tattoos are going extreme.

The bedbug tattoo style created by entomologist Matt Camper isn’t for the pain-averse. It’s a lot more involved and unsettling than sitting down for a quick henna session or spending a quarter on a vending machine sticker tattoo. 

Camper fashioned a homemade “bedbug tattoo gun” with a mason jar with a pattern on the top. The bugs come through to bite the skin in the shape of the pattern. To use the tattoo gun, just turn the jar upside down on whatever part of the body is about to be ravaged by hungry bugs.

It takes two hours for the tattoo to fully appear on the skin. It looks like a patterned welt, since redness appears as the body’s inflammatory response kicks in.

The video Camper made detailing his bug gun is from 2009, but the Colorado-based scientist recently showed off his odd invention for a Science Channel special, renewing interest.

Would you let these bugs take a bite (or, rather, thousands of bites) in the name of temporary beauty?

H/T Oddity Central | Screenshot via YouTube

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*First Published: May 12, 2014, 1:36 pm CDT