The Bed Bug Study
Many cities have seen a resurgence of bed bugs in recent years, including Las Vegas. Seeing the need for effective tools to combat the pest, a scientist from Simon Fraser University has conducted an experiment on herself using bed bugs to try to determine what triggers these pests to feed and multiply. The research began over seven years ago and required the scientist being subjected to five straight years of bed bug attacks.
Regine Gries is a researcher for Simon Fraser University. Along with her lab partner and husband Gerhard, they set out to find a repellent for bed bugs. Working with Robert Britton, the leader of the study and a chemist for the university, the research team decided they needed to know what attracted bed bugs first before they could develop a repellent.
Gerhard was first chosen as the test subject, but it was quickly discovered that he had a significant allergic reaction to the bed bug bites. Because of this, Regine became the test subject and the study began.
Regine was subjected to five years’ worth of bed bug bites. It is estimated that she had to endure over 180,000 bites during this period to gain the information necessary for the study.
What They Discovered
After five years of intense research and a lot of discomfort for Regine, the researchers discovered that bed bugs communicate by odors. They release an odor to the colony when there is food available, and another odor is released when the colony senses danger.
This is very significant because there has never been any indication in the past that these bugs communicate in any fashion. Most scientists believed that bed bugs simply worked on instinct and fed when they were hungry.
This new information is stunning the scientific world and giving hope to everyone that this can be used for a bed bug repellent or pest control.
The researchers are now working with Contech Enterprises, Inc. in Victoria, Canada to create bed bug traps. Based on these odors, the traps will release a scent that draws the bed bugs into the trap where they will die. The product is anticipated for release in 2015.
The Problem With Bed Bugs
One of the largest problems with bed bugs, besides the fact that they are a terrible nuisance, is the fact that they are almost impossible to kill. Bed bugs quickly adapt to insecticides rendering them useless against the fight to stop these infestations.
Extreme heat and cold have been shown to kill these pests. However, it is almost impossible to control these extreme temperatures in a home to make them effective. Additionally, bed bugs love to crawl into tiny cracks and hide, making temperature treatments ineffective. Pest control specialists have had some luck controlling these pests by using combination treatments and by continually adding new insecticides to their treatment plan.
Bed bugs also have a very long period where they can go without feeding. Because of this, bed bugs can hide when an area is being treated and leave their hiding spot when the insecticide is no longer harmful. This ability to go without food for extended periods of time is also what helps these bugs move from place to place.
This bait system that works on the very basics of how these insects communicate could be the answer to the bed bug infestation that has been sweeping the world. Using the bed bugs biological signals against them is a great step toward eradicating this menace.