A Breakthrough in Bed Bug Science
A few weeks ago, a group of scientists uncovered a huge breakthrough in the realm of bedbug science. Using state-of-the-art techniques, the researchers were able to fully map the genome of the bedbug, that is, pulling out the bedbug’s DNA to see exactly what makes up this invasive pest. What they found may change the way bed bugs are handled in the future, and ultimately, make us even more effective at eliminating the bedbug from your home.
This team, in a Nature Communications study, sampled several bedbugs from around the New York City region to analyze each one’s DNA. What they found was that these bedbugs all have a different genetic makeup, but they all express similar traits after feeding. These said traits are responsible for not causing pain when they feed, and are directly linked to a bedbug’s resistance to certain insecticides. In addition, the researchers found that 1,500 of the 38,000 bedbug genes map to 400 different types of bacteria, alluding to the fact that these bacteria are necessary for the growth and development of a bedbug.
So, what does this mean for pest control? To put it simply, this study shows us the strengths and weaknesses of the bedbug on the genetic level, and can better inform us on where to attack for assured removal. For example, since the researchers have found that 400 different species of bacteria are vital for the growth and development of the bedbug, an anti-bacterial spray that kills these bacteria may be a more effective way to rid the pest. On the other hand, scientists can reverse-engineer a stronger, more effective insecticide based on what the bedbug can naturally defend against. In plain English, now that the scientists know what the strengths and weaknesses of the bedbug, they can exploit them to make a more efficient elimination strategy.
Unlike the recent discovery of gravitational waves, the mapping of the bedbug genome may not seem like a huge scientific accomplishment. However, there is more than meets the eye, because now we know we can hit the bedbug where it hurts. In a few years, new insecticides and antibacterial sprays that exploit the bedbug’s weaknesses will be mainstream, making it easier to control the bedbug population. At the end of it, the mapping of the bedbug genome truly is one small step for man, and one giant leap towards the eradication of bedbug-kind.