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Bed bugs developed thicker armour to protect themselves from insecticides

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Posted April 19, 2016

Although world is developing rapidly and modern day people live in fairly tidy and clean houses, we still cannot Always avoid blood sucking bed bugs. Even though we think that nowadays we should be able to get a quick solution to this problem, some bed bugs are resistant to commonly used insecticides as the new research from the University of Sydney shows.  It turns out, bugs protect themselves with thick skin.

Bed bugs are small, but not weak – these blood sucking parasites developed a thicker skin to protect themselves from commonly used insecticides. Image credit: Jiří Humpolíček via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.5

Bed bugs are small, but not weak – these blood sucking parasites developed a thicker skin to protect themselves from commonly used insecticides. Image credit: Jiří Humpolíček via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.5

The world is witnessing resurgence in bed bugs over the past two decades. It causes significant financial damage in the hospitality and tourism sectors, which means that science has to find quick solutions how to fight them. At first glance the solution seems to be simple – there are tons of readily available sprays in the store, with label saying that it can kill virtually all parasites. However, new research shows that resurgence of bed bugs is due to their resistance to commonly used insecticides.

It looks like bed bugs are well prepared for the world with humans – much like in medieval times, they simply developed thicker skin to protect themselves from our guns. David Lilly, author of the study, explained: “Bed bugs, like all insects, are covered by an exoskeleton called a cuticle. Using scanning electron microscopy, we were able to compare the thickness of cuticle taken from specimens of bed bugs resistant to insecticides and from those more easily killed by those same insecticides”.

Results are simple – the thicker the cuticle, the more resistant bed bugs are to common insecticides. However, now that we know their strategies, we may prepare ourselves better for the next round.

Researching cuticles of bed bugs (and other similar parasites for that matter) should help finding a weak spot in their thick outer layer of skin. However, scientists note that because of their size research is not easy – it require patience and a steady hand. But as long as we can beat them once again, all efforts are worth it.

Source: sydney.edu.au

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