Recently Ohio State University released study information regarding the unbelievable rate of pesticide resistance of Bedbugs. The study results were published online and it was titled “Transcriptomics of the Bed Bug (Cimex lectularius)”. This is the first published comprehensive genetic study of Bedbugs.
The basics of the study are that Bedbugs produce enzymes that cleanse their bodies of harmful impurities. Add this to existing research that shows Bedbugs have nerve cells adapted to handling the effects of chemicals and the growth of thicker cuticles (outer shell) which makes it more difficult for the pesticides to penetrate and we just may have “Super Bedbugs”. This is certainly nothing new to the pest management industry but it lends some credence to the constant complaints of ineffective products by the professionals and the “victims” of Bedbug infestation. Pesticide resistant Bedbugs have been seen for years but these strains of Bedbugs are spreading across the country with NYC Bedbug populations being the most resistant.
At the National Bedbug Forum earlier this month, the nation’s top Bedbug researchers spoke of the studies they are currently conducting but the results will not be public for quite some time. Included in this star studded line-up were: Dr. Michael Potter, University of Kentucky; Dr. Dini Miller, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Dr. Phil Koehler, University of Florida. In combination, they revealed that Bedbugs are not going anywhere and that they are resistant to most professionally used pesticides. These professionals are using Bedbugs collected from all around the country and comparing them to each other and laboratory raised Bedbugs from decades ago. One little factoid release was that Bedbugs still show signs of DDT resistance although the product hasn’t been used for several decades in the United States. Bedbugs are even showing signs of higher heat tolerance.
High heat to control Bedbug infestations seems to be the most effective strategy available today. All stages of Bedbugs succumb to temperatures of 120°F within a few minutes. Many systems are on the market today including a company that converts trailers into heat chambers called Insect Inferno. Although more expensive than conventional treatment strategies, heat offers less disruption and preparation for the consumer as well as a higher percentage of control. The professionals utilizing these systems must be constantly monitoring the temperature throughout the treated area as extremely high temperatures will damage items. The general rule of thumb is to remove any objects and/or items that you wouldn’t leave in your trunk during the summer.
Controlling Bedbugs is a communal issue. Education and prevention provide the underpinnings of any successful control effort. Taking preventative measures when you travel, utilizing Bedbug-proof mattress and box spring encasements as well as installing Bedbug traps are some of the simple steps people can take. After all, do you know if the store, restaurant, theater, cab, bus or friend’s house you recently visited is Bedbug free? Chances are that you have no idea.