Ensystex has introduced Diathor Bed Bug Killer to the market, a water-based aerosol that allows pest managers to treat sensitive areas with confidence. 

A gap in the bed bug control market has existed for a product that can be used to treat bed bugs on mattresses and in other sensitive areas. Pest managers also question the use of chemicals based on concerns about resistance. This makes the release of Diathor Bed Bug Killer, a pesticide-free solution for the control of bed bugs, a welcome addition to the professional pest manager’s toolkit.

Diathor Bed Bug Killer from Ensystex is a water-based formulation containing 12 g/kg of a highly abrasive grade of pyrogenic, amorphous silica, provided in an easy-to-use aerosol formulation. It has a purely physical mode of action – it kills by adsorbing the lipids (waxes) that form the waterproof outer layer of the epicuticle of insects and also interacts with the membrane structures. This causes the loss of significant quantities of body fluids in a comparatively short period of time, leading to rapid dehydration and death.

Ensystex’s regional director, Steve Broadbent, detailed how the product works. “The three-dimensional formation of the silicates gives the product a strong covalent electrical charge, enabling it to adhere strongly to the insect’s cuticle, increasing the product’s effectiveness. The exceptionally high biological activity of Diathor is related to the particle shape and surface characteristics of the silica. The silicate compounds found in Diathor offer a significant advantage over those found in diatomaceous earth, which is a naturally occurring silica rock (composed of microscopic fossils of diatoms, or algae).

“This is because the internal structures in the synthetic silicates are in the nanoscale size range. The manufacturing process then leads to aggregates of strongly (covalently) bonded primary particles which, together with weak interaction forces (van der Waals interactions, hydrogen bonding, and physical adhesion) between aggregates, leads to the formation of micrometre (μ)-sized agglomerates. Typically, isolated nanoparticles do not occur. The biological activity of the silicate is related to the particle shape and surface characteristics interfacing with the insect, rather than to the particle size.”

Crack cuticle of bed bug after treatment
Diathor works by fatally dehydrating the bed bug via its cuticle

One key challenge for pest managers is the ability of bed bugs to rapidly develop resistance to traditional pesticides. Diathor, with its pesticide-free, physical mode of action, offers an effective solution against even the most resistant strains. Its mode of action limits the possibility of resistance developing due to its physical rather than chemical or metabolic mode of action. The physical nature of its mode of action also means it does not break down like chemical treatments, providing protection for extended periods.

Diathor has been tested against susceptible and resistant strains of the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) by the Department of Medical Entomology, ICPMR, Westmead Hospital in NSW and against the tropical bed bug (Cimex hemipterus) by the Department of Medical Entomology in Thailand. In all trials, 100% mortality was achieved.

Its safety profile makes Diathor a sound choice for sensitive accounts and safety-conscious customers. “Diathor Bed Bug Killer is a low risk solution since it is pesticide-free. Amorphous silicas have been used for many decades in a wide variety of applications, including as a filler in food for human consumption, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, both oral and topical,” explained Mr Broadbent. “Based on extensive physico-chemical, ecotoxicological, toxicological, safety and epidemiological data, no environmental or health risks have been associated with these materials.

Amorphous silicas have not been shown to bioaccumulate and all disappear within a short time from living organisms by physiological excretion mechanisms.”

Mr Broadbent cautioned that it is important to use the product correctly. “Pest managers must shake the can thoroughly before use. There are two steel marbles that will rattle and disperse the contents so the silicate molecules group together, due to the weak interaction forces (van der Waals interactions). This creates the three-dimensional network of silica particles, which gives improved performance and delivery.

“Diathor will initially leave a visible deposit, which fades quickly, leaving reduced visible impact, when compared to ready-to-use dust products. It is recommended for discreet placement. If in doubt, test a small area first and leave for ten minutes.”

Diathor is broadly labelled for application to bedsteads, bedsprings, mattresses, floor coverings, upholstered furniture, cracks in walls, behind torn wallpaper, joints in woodwork and other harbourages. Diathor Bed Bug Killer is available directly from Ensystex.

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