Sydney – Bed bugs have the potential to develop thicker “skins” to help them survive exposure to widely used insecticides, a study published Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE found. Researchers say that this might be the reason why their populations are increasing around the world, becoming more difficult to control.
“One way bed bugs beat insecticides is by developing a thicker ‘skin’,” co-author David Lilly from the University of Sydney in Australia said in a press release.
The findings of this study could lead to the development of more effective strategies to beat these tiny and yet horrifying creatures. Mr. Lilly said that understanding the biological mechanisms these insects use to resist insecticides may help find their weakness.
While humans and animals sleep, bed bugs feed on their blood and have the potential to cause them painful bites. Infestations have globally spread to offices and homes, as the insects can survive for up to a year without feeding and a single female can infest an entire building.
Some of the causes of the worldwide spread are human population growth and international travel, according to a report by the BBC. The most common and easy way to eliminate them is the use of insecticides, but the insects have quickly found the way to beat the chemicals.
David Lilly and his research team used scanning electron microscopy to compare the cuticles taken from bed bugs that were easily killed by insecticides with cuticles from those that were resistant to the chemicals.
It is necessary to use 1,000 times larger concentrations to eliminate resistant strains of the insect than those required to kill non-resistant bugs. Just like any other insect, these creatures are covered by an exoskeleton called a cuticle. Researchers found that bed bugs with a thicker cuticle were more likely to be resistant to insecticides.
Bed bugs were very common in the 1940s and 50s until the launch of DTT and other strong insecticides succeeded at limiting their populations. But they eventually managed to resurge by developing resistance to DTT and other chemicals.
Source: PLoS ONE