Bed bugs are everywhere and, due to evolution, are becoming increasingly difficult to kill. An insect that was once only found in the crevices of one’s mattress can now be found in any crevice of their home, including unexpected places like toilet bowels and sockets. A recent study led by Dr. John T. Trumble, revealed that bed bugs are now immune to the world’s strongest pesticides.
Held at Rutgers University, the study involved bed bugs from infested homes in Indiana and New Jersey. The bed bugs were first sprayed with various insecticides, and their habits were then analyzed by scientists. Some of the bed bugs were allowed to feed on human blood after being sprayed, but others were not.
As consuming human blood is necessary for bed bugs to live, it was no surprise that the bed bugs who were allowed to feed had a lower mortality rate than those who were not given sustenance. The researchers wrote of this fascinating realization in the study.
“Our results indicated that post-treatment feeding significantly reduced or slowed down bed bug mortality.”
One insecticide had a high 94 percent mortality rate, but when bed bugs were allowed to feed, this insecticide was just as ineffective as the others. The Rutgers researchers came to the conclusion that bed bugs who fed after being sprayed had only a four percent mortality rate.
Another discovery during the study was that many of the available insecticides were far too earthy to actually get the job done. Specifically, the researchers noticed that bed bug insecticides created from essential oils allowed for the bed bugs to bounce back quicker than usual. Study co-author, Dr. Narinderpal Singh explained what she believes to be the cause of the helpless pesticides.
“Many of the insecticides labeled for bed bug control may not be as effective as claimed, because of the inadequate testing method. People often use laboratory bioassay results to predict field performance of an insecticide. It is important the testing conditions are similar to what would occur in the field. Current established test protocols for bed bug insecticides do not provide bloodmeals to bed bugs during the test period. We suspect the mortality data typically observed might be different if the tested bed bugs were provided a bloodmeal during the observation period.”
The easy way to explain why bed bugs can’t seem to be killed with modern insecticides is that, just like humans, food weakens their intoxication. Therefore, the best way to kill bed bugs in a particular area in the house is to spray and remove all people from the house so that the insects starve. Still, Dr. Singh feels that more must be done in science to intensify insecticides, making bed bugs easier to get rid of.
“Incorporating non-chemical methods into bed bug control is very important in order to achieve good results.”
Some of the most effective non-chemical treatments for bed bugs are reportedly vacuuming them from mattresses and sofas, as well as using high amounts of heat to completely kill all of the bed bugs in the infested area. As seen on shows like Animal Planet’s Infested, these treatments are usual successful.
Unfortunately, millions of dollars are still be spent in the U.S. and around the world to buy harsh chemicals that don’t really solve the bed bug problem. With more and more infestastions arising in public places like schools and work offices, the issue is far from over. The Rutgers study, which was published in the Journal of Medical Entomology was the first scientific study to prove that bed bugs are in fact, resistant to modern pesticides.
[Feature image via Media for Medical/Getty Images]