Bedbugs are increasingly hard to kill. Recent developments reveal the resistive nature of the bugs against the latest pesticide chemicals that are used to kill them. A new poison harvested from their own bodies be their next nemesis promising to bring apocalypse to these hard to pin down bloodsuckers?
The Journal of Medical Entomology cited a study of the synthesized bedbug pheromone added to an organic natural pest control DE dust showed a result that almost doubles the potent power of DE alone. The pheromone action alarms the bedbugs of danger and sends them scampering and dispersing at all directions – and into the sprinkled diatomaceous earth where they are intensely scratched and cut to death.
It has been 50 years since the mini critters were nearly eliminated by DDT from developed countries, now they’re back sucking blood again. Only this time DDT is not around to stop them. Government regulations banned the use of DDT for its toxic hazards on human and wildlife. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stopped its used in 1972.
EPA assembled the first National Bedbug Summit on April of 2009. The following month later representatives from North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Alaska launched to congress the “Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite Act of 2009.” According to the bill, “bedbug populations in the United States have increased by 500 percent in the past few years.” The urban area received the toughest hit. In 2008 there were over 22,000 bedbug-related calls in New York City’s help line, increasing from only around 10,500 in 2006. Gail Brewer, member of New York City Council quote, “Bedbugs are horrific. People call desperately crying.”
Desiccant dust like the diatomaceous earth helps obliterate the household critters (bedbugs, fleas, ticks, mites, roaches, etc.) by slicing their hard outer layer leaving the insect to drip out their fluids until they dry up and die. This effect depended on the bugs actually walking through the fine dust applied inside gaps and crevices. Bedbugs love to cram in tiny spaces, which according to Joshua Benoit, lead author of the research and a member of the Central Ohio Bedbug Task Force, “With the alarm pheromone, they get agitated and start running through this material.”
Benoit, candidate of doctoral in entomology at the Ohio State University in Columbus, and his team of researchers experimented on combinations of desiccant dust and two alarm pheromone chemicals from bedbugs. First, they placed the bugs in petri dishes; later, in a bigger polymer container with a folded piece of paper. The latter test characterized a more realistic situation giving the bugs a place to take cover. At the last part, the most potent poison incorporated both pheromone components and the desiccant dust. Upon comparison with using the desiccant alone, the combination significantly accelerated water loss and shortened the time it took to slay the bedbugs by half. Benoit concluded that if it takes 24 hours to kill the bugs, with this dynamic duo of alarm pheromone and desiccant dust it will only take 12 hours.
While the results of the experiment may be encouraging, Benoit clarifies that it isn’t ready yet for the night shift. The chemical constituents are not even obtainable in the right concentrations if anyone attempts to mix his own, according to Benoit. He additionally noted that the price tag of the poison would be minimal given that only small amounts of the poison would be required. Benoit worries that the alarmed bedbugs could simply spread out quickly to adjacent areas, worsening the condition. He recommended future tests in real apartment setting to make sure this doesn’t occur.
While Jocelyn Millar, professor of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside agrees to the new approach, he is concern on the “level of control” of the poison. He said, “It’s a different way than just spraying toxic insecticides around.” He further added, “If you go into the hotel room that’s been treated, you wouldn’t be happy.” The treatment can only be effective if it eliminates the bedbugs totally and get rid of the poisons pungent smell.
Benoit recognized the desperate situation in bedbug extermination. According to him the main problem was that nothing was working. If there was, it only took awhile before the bedbugs become resistant. A colleague who works with Central Ohio Bedbugs Task Force told Benoit that they are open to anything at this point.
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