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Bed Bugs

June 29, 2009

Researchers are using bed bug pheromones to beat the nuisance pests at their own game.


Alarming bed bugs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Bed bugs have made a huge comeback in the last 15 years, according to Ohio State University insect physiologist Josh Benoit. He says this is because many populations have become resistant to conventional pesticides.

JOSH BENOIT (Ohio State University):
You’ll spray once, and you think you’ve killed them, but you won’t kill all the population at one given time. And so a couple of them survive. You’ll end up with a re-infestation right then. And then the problem persists.

Benoit and colleagues recently found they could cause a mass bed bug exodus within seconds by applying the insects’ own alarm pheromones to an infested area. The pests then run across dessicant dust, which causes them to dry up and die. He says the treatment could be very effective, but cautions that tests need to be done on a larger scale to make sure the insects don’t just disperse into neighboring human habitations. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.