Scientists Create Pheromone Trap to Combat Bedbug Epidemic

First Posted: Dec 26, 2014 01:33 PM EST

Bedbugs are pesky insects, living in mattresses and coming out at night to bite at your exposed skin. Now, though, scientists may have just created a new technique to combat the global bedbug epidemic.

The new method is a set of chemical attractants, or pheromones, that lure the bedbugs into traps and then keep them there-far away from you and your mattress. Currently, the researchers are working to develop the first effective and affordable bait and trap for detecting and monitoring bedbug infestations. In fact, it's likely that this new bait could be commercially available as early as next year.

"The biggest challenge in dealing with bedbugs is to detect the infestation at an early stage," said Gerhard Gries, one of the researchers, in a news release. "This trap will help landlords, tenants and pest-control professionals determine whether premises have a bedbug problem, so that they can treat it quickly. It will also be useful for monitoring the treatment's effectiveness."

The new bait is based on a pheromone blend that attracted bedbugs in lab experiments, but not in bedbug-infested apartments. Realizing that some component must be missing, the researchers then worked on finding what that component might be. In the end, they finally discovered that histamine signals "safe shelter" to bedbugs and was one of the missing components. Delving a bit further, they then found three new volatiles that completed the new bait.

That said, the research isn't over. The scientists plan to continue work to finalize the development of a commercial lure, which could be huge in trapping and preventing the spread of bedbugs.

The findings are published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

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