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Bed Bugs Can Bypass Pitfalls of Inbreeding, Studies Say
Date:12/6/2011

re-emergence isn't fully understood, but it's suspected that the bugs have developed a resistance to the pesticides used to kill them. Those pesticides include pyrethroids, commonly found in cans of insect spray, and DDT, which is banned in the United States but still used in other countries, Schal said.

A third study to be presented at the meeting, by researchers from University of Kentucky, found that killing resistant bed bugs takes 10,000 times more pyrethroid insecticide than destroying a strain of bed bugs never exposed to the insecticide.

The good news is bed bugs are not known to carry disease, although some people can have allergic reactions, said Dr. Peter Hotez, president of ASTMH. "While it's an annoyance, there shouldn't be cause for alarm," he said.

More research is needed to confirm the inbreeding findings and the theory that pesticide resistance is to blame for the resurgence, Hotez said. But, "if you have insecticide resistance and inbreeding, those two findings suggest we could be looking at larger bed bug problem in the coming months and years," Hotez said.

Though often associated with unsanitary conditions, bed bugs aren't attracted to dirt, experts said. They are more likely to be found in poorer buildings, but that's likely because of lack of resources to pay for expensive extermination, Schal said.

Fumigation with pesticides can eradicate bed bugs from a building, but it may take multiple efforts because of resistance, Schal said. Another technique involves sealing off a building and heating the interior to between 120 and 130 degrees, which kills the bugs and their eggs. But that can be costly and requires specialized equipment, he said.

Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown and oval-shaped. Before feeding, the adult bed bug is relatively flat. After feeding, it becomes a darker red.

During the day, they hide in cracks and crevices, box springs and mattress seams. At night, they come out to feed. "If they
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