New Research Could End Battle Against Bed Bugs
New research could end the battle against bed bugs. According to a team of entomologists at Penn State University, the parasites have met their match in a fungus called Beauveria bassiana, which grows naturally in soils and causes disease in insects.
As part of the study, published in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, researchers took paper and cotton jersey, commonly used in bed sheets. On one set they sprayed fungal spores and on the other blank oil. After the surfaces were dry, bed bugs were added for one hour.
All the bugs exposed to the biopesticide died within five days. But more important, the infected bugs carried the fungal spores back to their hiding places, infecting nearly all the other bugs. This is key because they tend to live in hard-to-reach places, such as electrical plates, under loose wallpaper and behind baseboards.
“They don’t even need to be directly exposed, and that’s something chemicals cannot do,” said researcher Nina Jenkins in a media statement. “If you have bedbugs in your house … what you really want to know is if they’ve all gone at the end of the treatment, and I think that’s something that this technology could offer.”
Researchers must test exposure times and do more field work before this biopesticide hits the market. But the timing is ripe because, according to the study, there’s been a resurgence in bed bug infestations, linked to international travel, changes in pest management practices and insecticide resistance.
In Toronto, it’s difficult to get a handle on how widespread the problem is and if it’s growing because different departments and agencies deal with bed bugs. Plus, not all infestations get reported.