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THE LATEST IN BED BUG RESEARCH

A round-up of the latest published works on bed bugs from the academic world.

Bed bug shed skins – the smell of success?

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have discovered that the shed skins of bed bugs retain the “obnoxious sweetness” smell often associated with the pests, a finding that could potentially be used to combat infestations of the insects.

Bed bugs shed their skins, known as exuviae, as they grow. Four pheromone compounds known as aldehydes are consistently found in the shed skins.

The UC Riverside researchers found that the shed skins retain those compounds in the glands and gradually dispense them over time. They also found that living bed bugs are likely to settle down in the vicinity of the shed skins by sensing these compounds.

The findings could have significant implications for pest management industries, which can use some of the chemical / mechanical characteristics of the bed bugs’ shed skin to develop small, inexpensive monitor traps to catch living bed bugs at their early stages of infestation.

Reworked extract from University of California, Riverside and article in Science Daily, July 20, 2016.

Do bed bugs have favourite colours?

Researchers from the University of Florida and Union College in Lincoln, New England (USA) wondered whether bed bugs preferred certain colours for their hiding places.

The results, which were published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, showed that the bed bugs strongly preferred red and black, and they seemed to avoid colours like green and yellow.

Furthermore, their colour preferences changed as they grew older, and they chose different colours when they were in groups than when they were alone. They also chose different colours depending on whether they were hungry or fed. Males and females also seemed to prefer different colours.

The purpose of these trials was to identify ways to enhance bed bug traps and certainly colour choice seems to have an impact. However, the response certainly isn’t strong enough to use colour as the sole attractant in any bed bug trap design.

As the authors were quick to point out, don’t throw out the red sheets or black suitcases just yet! A bit more work is required.

Reworked extract from the Entomological Society of America and Science Daily, April 25, 2016.

The heat is on to stop bed bugs spreading

New research indicates that brief heat treatment is a promising way to decrease the spread of bed bugs being transported on the outer surface of luggage.

When soft-sided suitcases with male bed bugs on the outside were exposed to an air temperature of 70-75°C, it took only six minutes to kill all of the bed bugs, even those that had concealed themselves under zipper flaps or decorative piping.

During heating, only one bed bug (out of 250 total) moved into the luggage (through a closed zipper). Also, at room temperature, only three percent of bugs placed on the outside of the suitcases had moved inside during a 24-hour period.

“Heat has attracted a lot of interest as a control method for bed bugs because it is effective and environmentally benign, but it can take a lot of time for heat to thoroughly penetrate a piece of furniture or a suitcase and increase the temperature at the location of the hidden bed bugs inside,” said Dr Catherine Loudon, author of the Pest Management Science article. “Bed bugs located on the outside of luggage are one of the few cases in which they are somewhat peripherally constrained and therefore more vulnerable to a quick exposure of heat.”

Post reprinted from Wiley and Science Daily, April 25, 2016.

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