Researchers found that bed bugs have developed resistance to the most frequently used insecticide.
In research, Dr. Alvaro Romero of New Mexico State University and Dr. Troy Anderson of Virginia Tech performed a very unique experiment involving bed bugs. Both the researchers collected bed bugs in Cincinnati and Michigan from human dwellings.
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They also collected bed bugs from a bed bug colony kept by Dr. Harold Harlan for more than 30 years without any insecticide exposure, and also a pyrethroid-resistant population from Jersey City that had not been exposed to neonics.
Neonics or neonicotinoids, are the most widely used group of insecticides around the world today. Various products have been developed for bed bug control over the past few years that combine neonics with pyrethroids, another class of insecticide.
As a part of the experiment, the researchers exposed these insecticides: acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam to the four collections of bed bugs.
They found out that Harlan bed bugs, when exposed to very small amounts of the neonics, died. The Jersey City bed bugs managed slightly better, showing moderate resistance to acetamiprid and dinotefuran, but not to imidacloprid or thiamethoxam.
Bed bugs from Michigan and Cincinnati had even higher levels of resistance to neonics. That may be contributed to the factors that these bed bugs have been collected from areas after combinations of pyrethroids and neonicotinoids were introduced to the U.S. market.
According to the researchers, when exposed to insecticides, bed bugs produce detoxifying enzymes to defend their lives against the insecticides.
The researchers found that the levels of detoxifying enzymes in the Jersey City bed bugs were higher than those of the susceptible Harlan population and those in the Cincinnati and Michigan bugs, higher still.
At the conclusion of the study, Dr. Romero commented that insecticide companies need to be attentive for clues of declining performance of products that contain neonicotinoids.
The bed bugs continuing to live on previously treated surfaces might be an indication of resistance. He said that in such cases the laboratory confirmation of resistance is advised.
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This new study got published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.