Quick: find your local, neighborhood scientist, and give them a hug.
Why? Because science has scored a rare win in humanity’s battle with bugs. Researchers from the Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine have sequenced the entire bed bug genome.
Deciphering seven hundred million base pairs of the cimex lectularius is painstaking, but the reward justifies the effort, as we’re that much closer to getting rid of bed bugs. For good.
This feat is bigger than the tiny bed bug bites that drive people mad. Consider that not only have bed bugs been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth, but they’ve stayed relatively the same for a hundred million years, similar to the Queen of England. In other words, they’re resilient, wily little buggers.
A Little History of the Bed Bug Problem
Bed bug populations dipped in the mid-twentieth century, thanks to the creation of potent pesticides like D.D.T. But as they’ve done for millions and millions of years, they developed a resistance to these new insecticides, resulting in their population numbers crawling back up.
Their penchant for adapting to new bug killers is impressive (and why getting rid of bed bugs feels impossible). Neonicotinoids are the newest class of insecticides available, just 20 years young – and the bed bugs have already adapted a resistance to that, claim researchers.
Why the Bed Bug Genome is Revolutionary
To put the resilience of bed bugs into perspective, it takes about five hundred times more neonicotinoids to destroy a bed bug population that’ve already been exposed to the chemical than a bed bug infestation that hasn’t. This is where the importance of the bed bug genome sequence comes in. Understanding and identifying genes is the first step in creating a highly-effective bed bug crusher.
So far, very preliminary research found that in a bed bug life cycle, there’s a radical expression change in the genome after the bed bug gets its first taste of blood. Or in layman’s terms: crazy stuff happens when a bed bug bites and feasts on human blood.
This is where it gets good: the same expression is linked to the bed bugs’ notorious insecticide resistance, meaning they develop their uncanny ability to survive once the bed bug life cycle hits its Dracula moment.
So it’s conceivable that the path to creating an effective destroyer of a bed bug infestation is to concoct a chemical that targets the ‘nymphs,’ or baby bed bugs.
While it’s pretty neat that these little plebs have adapted and persisted since the time of dinosaurs, there won’t be anyone lamenting the loss of these living fossils if they go the way of the dodo.
Until researchers figure out how to get rid of bed bugs for good, Magical Pest can keep that bed bug infestation at bay. If your house is crawling with bed bugs, or you aren’t sure if you have them in your home, call Magical Pest’s specialized Bed Bug Removal Division for advice at 905-738-6676.