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Scientists use bed bugs' own chemistry against them
Date:6/2/2009

small plastic container in which a folded piece of paper offered bed bugs a place to hide. Bed bugs tend to stay hidden in wall and floor cracks, moldings or mattresses by day and feed on human or animal blood at night. The researchers created this experimental habitat to see if alarm pheromones would bring bed bugs out of hiding.

After the bed bugs stopped moving within the paper, called a harborage, the scientists applied the desiccant dust followed by the alarm pheromone. They used the most effective blend of pheromones as determined in the petri dish experiments, as well as Dri-die, the more effective of the two desiccant dusts.

All of the bed bugs came out of hiding within five minutes of the application of the alarm pheromones, Benoit said. And the combination of a blend of pheromones and Dri-die reduced survival by 50 percent of both young and adult bed bugs, he said. At least half the young bed bugs were dead within 10 days, and about 60 percent of adult female bed bugs died within 40 days.

"Desiccant dust is messy, but it's not toxic, so it can be used in agricultural settings, such as chicken coops, where bed bugs can be a big problem," Benoit said. The dust method also can be used in housing, where it would be sprinkled on carpet and eventually vacuumed.

These results were achieved in small areas, but Benoit and colleagues hope the technique could also be applied to large environments infested with bed bugs. Benoit is reluctant to suggest the use of desiccant dusts with alarm pheromones until additional experiments are conducted.

"Before companies start selling desiccant dusts laced with alarm pheromones, more tests need to be carried out in room-sized arenas to determine any possible negative effects," Benoit said. Even so, the researchers believe the use of alarm pheromones could increase the effectiveness of desiccant dusts and other kinds of residual insecticides used to kill bed bugs as well.

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Contact: Joshua Benoit
benoit.8@osu.edu
614-247-5093
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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