Just like humans develop resistance to certain remedies after using them too much, the same thing happens with other living beings. Today’s case are bed bugs: they have developed resistance to neonicotinoids, a powerful insecticide which is the most widely used in the world.

Scientists from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and New Mexico State University, published a study that revealed that chemicals used to fight bed bugs are not working any longer. Today’s bed bugs were compared to those that have been isolated in a lab for 30 years.

Photo: Orkin
Photo: Orkin

Researchers found that the insects had “dramatic levels” of immunity to regular doses of the chemicals. The non-resistant bugs, the ones that were isolated for the long period of time, didn’t require as much poison as the new ones, that required concentrations 1000 larger than usual. Scientists began to consider other non-chemical methods to control plagues.

“While we all want a powerful tool to fight bed bug infestations, what we are using as a chemical intervention is not working as effectively it was designed and, in turn, people are spending a lot of money on products that aren’t working,” Troy Anderson, an assistant professor of entomology in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said in an announcement last week.

The increase of global human population and the rapid expansion of international travel have become the main cause to make the bed bug one of the biggest problems of hotel rooms all over the world. Bed bugs are generally found in beds or couches, and travellers often wake up with bite marks all over their bodies.

The insects are mainly nocturnal and survive solely on blood, they are extremely hard to get rid off once they have settled, they can survive a whole year without feeding and a single fertilised female can infect an entire apartment. They are also more problematic for low-income, elderly, and disabled people who can’t spot the tiny red bug and often don’t have the means to get rid of them, say researchers from Virginia Tech.

Sources: The Christian Science Monitor