Fact Check

Smoking Bedbugs to Get High

Rumor: Schoolkids are smoking and injecting crushed bedbugs to get high from a hallucinogenic substance they contain.

Published April 9, 2014

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Schoolkids are smoking and injecting crushed bedbugs to get high from a hallucinogenic substance they contain.

April 2014 saw the proliferation of Internet accounts, based on a purported local television news spot from Phoenix station KNXV, reporting the latest alleged shocking schoolyard trend: kids smoking or injecting crushed bedbugs to get a cheap high from a hallucinogenic substance (PH-417) supposedly contained within those critters:

Kids smoking BED BUGS to get high, talk about terrifying tween trend!

In their latest effort to find a cheap high that doesn't require the purchase of any actual drugs, teens have discovered a way to smoke bed bugs. Yes, BED BUGS. The things that normal people hate even thinking about. The little critters that plague hotels and give guests nasty rashes. Yes, those very same bed bugs.

Apparently, the insects contain a hallucinogenic substance within them, except it's impossible to isolate it, so the bugs have to be caught, killed and crushed into a powder, which is then either smoked or, perhaps even worse and more disgusting, injected. How did they even think of this?!

Unfortunately, not only is the very idea of this cringe-worthy, but the bugs also contain other elements that can cause serious damage to the mind and body, so smoking them can be extremely dangerous. Like you didn't already know that.

However, this story was just a hoax, an April Fool's Day prank based on an altered version of a real KNXV-TV report from several months earlier on the dangers of "dabbing" (i.e., inhaling butane-extracted hash oil, also known as BHO):

If you're involved with cannabis at all, whether recreationally, medically, or from a business standpoint, then you either know about or have probably heard of "dabbing." This method of consumption has been around for at least a decade, but the advent of more advanced extraction methods have led to a flood of cannabis concentrates that have boosted dabbing's popularity.

Dabs are doses of cannabis concentrates that used to mostly refer to butane hash oil (or BHO), but has grown to include a variety of other concentrates such as wax, shatter, budder, or even "errl," which is a playful meme-derived way of saying oil. These concentrates can be up to 80% THC, the active psychoactive compound in cannabis, but usually range between 50 and 75%.

A dab usually refers to a dose of concentrate that is heated on a hot surface, usually a nail, and then inhaled.

Shane Watson, the interview subject featured in both the hoax "bedbug" video and the original KNXV news report on "dabbing," posted his own clip to YouTube to explain that he had nothing to do with the former, and that the latter misrepresented his involvement with the issue:

The "crushed bedbugs" item has now entered the pantheon of bogus alarmist warnings about fictitiously bizarre things that kids supposedly do to get inexpensive highs, such as shamboiling (i.e., inhaling boiled shampoo fumes), jenkem (i.e., inhaling fermented raw sewage), and shooting up with Pantene brand shampoo.


Angers, Angie.   "School Warns Parents of Smarties Snorting Trend."     WPRI-TV [Portsmouth].   17 January 2014.

Harris, Jenn.   "Snorting Smarties: Eat. Don't Snort. Unless You Want Nasal Maggots."    Los Angeles Times.   21 January 2014.

Searcey, Dionne.   "Just Say No ... to Smarties? Faux Smoking Has Parents Fuming."     The Wall Street Journal.   20 March 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.