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Repulsive smell could combat bed bugs

Date:
March 31, 2011
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Bed bugs are an increasingly common pest that necessitates extensive decontamination of homes. Researchers in Sweden have now discovered that young bed bugs produce a smell that repels other bed bugs. It is hoped that these findings could contribute to more effective control of the blood-sucking insects.

Bed bug. Bed bugs are an increasingly common pest that necessitates extensive decontamination of homes.
Credit: iStockphoto

Bed bugs are an increasingly common pest that necessitates extensive decontamination of homes. Researchers from Lund and Sundsvall in Sweden have now discovered that young bed bugs produce a smell that repels other bed bugs. It is hoped that these findings could contribute to more effective control of the blood-sucking insects.

In recent years, bed bug infestations have become increasingly common. There are two different species of bed bug that suck blood from humans -- the common bed bug and the tropical bed bug. Increased foreign travel has meant that tropical bed bugs frequently accompany travellers north.

A team of researchers from Lund University and Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall have now identified and quantified a type of smell that bed bugs produce, known as alarm pheromones. The researchers have studied these smells in both adult bed bugs and nymphs (immature bed bugs). The research team observed that the smells given off by the two species are surprisingly similar. Moreover, nymphs give off a different smell from adult bed bugs.

Behavioural tests show that the nymphs' smell is repulsive to both adult individuals and other nymphs. The researchers believe that this repellent effect could be used in control systems where alarm pheromones make the bed bugs more mobile and therefore increase the effectiveness of drying agents to kill them. However, this type of possible environmentally friendly control method requires greater understanding of how bed bugs' pheromone system works.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. H. Christoph Liedtke, Kajsa ลbj๖rnsson, Vincent Harraca, Jette T. Knudsen, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstr๖m, Camilla Ryne. Alarm Pheromones and Chemical Communication in Nymphs of the Tropical Bed Bug Cimex hemipterus (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (3): e18156 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018156

Cite This Page:

Lund University. "Repulsive smell could combat bed bugs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331114901.htm>.
Lund University. (2011, March 31). Repulsive smell could combat bed bugs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331114901.htm
Lund University. "Repulsive smell could combat bed bugs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331114901.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

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