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11/21/2012

Germ Warfare for Bed Bug Control

 
A new method to deal with bed begs may annihilate the troublesome facility pests.

Photo Credit: Nina Jenkins, Penn State

Bed bugs have been the cause of countless nightmares for facility managers and building owners, but a new solution may be on the way to deal with the resilient pest.  According to a team of Penn State entomologists, biopesticides might provide an answer to the great bed bug problem. Bed bugs need blood meals for growth and development throughout their life cycle. Increased travel, widespread insecticide resistance and changes in management practices have caused a resurgence in those insects throughout North America and Europe. Compounding the problem are concerns about the safety of using traditional chemicals in the domestic environment.

According to Nina Jenkins, senior research associate in entomology, preliminary bioassays on the effects of Beauveria bassiana -- a natural fungus that causes disease in insects -- on bed bug control have been performed, and the results are encouraging. She and her colleagues report their results in the most recent issue of the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology.

Jenkins, working with Alexis Barbarin, a former Penn State postgraduate student now at the University of Pennsylvania, Edwin Rajotte, professor of entomology, and Matthew Thomas, professor of entomology, looked at how B. bassiana acts through contact with its insect host.

"They are natural diseases that exist in the environment," says Jenkins. "They are relatively easy to produce in a lab and stable, so you can use them much like chemical pesticides."

In the study, the researchers used an airbrush sprayer to apply spore formulations to paper and cotton jersey, a common bed sheet material. Then control surfaces, again paper and cotton jersey, were sprayed with blank oil only. The surfaces were allowed to dry at room temperature overnight. Three groups of 10 bed bugs were then exposed to one of the two surfaces for one hour. Afterward, they were placed on clean filter paper in a petri dish and monitored.

The researchers found that all of the bed bugs exposed to the biopesticide became infected and died within five days.

Also, there were no prominent differences in susceptibility by feeding status, sex, strain or life stage. Most importantly, the infected bed bugs carried the biopesticide back to their hiding places, infecting those that did not go out in search of blood.

"We exposed half of a population of bed bugs to a spray residue for one hour and then allowed them to go into a harborage with unexposed individuals," says Jenkins. "The fungal spores were transferred from the exposed bug to their unexposed companions, and we observed almost a hundred percent infection. So they don't even need to be directly exposed, and that's something chemicals cannot do."

This result is important because bed bugs live in hard-to-reach places.

"Bed bugs tend to be cryptic, and they'll hide in the tiniest crevices," says Jenkins. "They don't just live in your bed. They hide behind light switches and power sockets and in between the cracks of the baseboard and underneath your carpet."

The speed of mortality with B. bassiana is as fast as Jenkins has seen in any application, but it doesn't even need to be that fast.

"If you are trying to protect a farmer's field, he wants the insects that are eating his crop dead immediately," says Jenkins. "Obviously, if you have bed bugs in your house, you don't want them there for any longer than you have to, but what you really want to know is if they've all gone at the end of the treatment, and I think that's something that this technology could offer."

Next, the researchers will test the effectiveness of brief exposure times and look at entire populations where natural harborages are established. Then they will begin field work.

"It's exciting, and it definitely works," says Jenkins. "We're working on the next step, and we have more funding to support these studies."

 

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Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
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04/16/2014

The U.S. Army plans to start development of a solar array that will provide about 25% of the annual installation electricity requirement of Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

04/15/2014

The EPA's annual greenhouse gas emissions report is now available.

04/14/2014

Are you what some would call a “climate-change denier”? If so, you'll want to read this.

04/10/2014
Los Angeles has remained the top city for ENERGY STAR certified building since 2008, while Washington, D.C. continues to hold onto second place for the fifth consecutive year, according to a new list released by the EPA.
04/09/2014
Green construction has grown massively over a short period of time.
04/07/2014
Field demonstrations of newly proven energy-efficient technologies are yielding valuable results for the U.S. Navy, helping it meet energy goals.
04/03/2014
Building owners in Chicago now have more options when it comes to getting their building energy data verified.
04/01/2014
According to a new report from Eaton, such outages are up 15% in 2013 over 2012 and over half of those surveyed believe that downtime could have been prevented.
03/31/2014
The newly revised ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 105-2014, Standard Methods of Determining, Expressing, and Comparing Building Energy Performance and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, aims to provide a consistent method of measuring, expressing, and comparing the energy performance of buildings.
03/27/2014
Facility managers face an every expanding array of sustainability choices and challenges, but for the next generation of FMs, green practices could be second nature as sustainability literacy enters the K-12 school system.
03/25/2014
While the economic recession explains the decline in sales in 2008 and 2009, it is much less clear why sales have continued to fall.
03/24/2014
University of Washington (UW) scientists have built the thinnest known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics.
03/21/2014
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2378 into law, effectively enacting the state’s first building code.
03/19/2014
In an attempt to improve building energy performance, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released a web-based tool called the Technology Performance Exchange, or TPEx.
03/18/2014
Could green building practices pose unanticipated life-safety hazards?
03/13/2014
Worried about workplace violence in your facility? Researchers have discovered that “mindfully observing” high-risk employees can avert danger and workplace violence.
03/11/2014
Through the DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program, every dollar the DOE has spent on building energy codes over the past two decades has resulted in $400 in energy cost savings.
03/07/2014
It is possible to harvest energy from Earth's thermal infrared emission into outer space, according to new research from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
03/05/2014
Is your building prepared to handle an emergency?
03/04/2014
NASCAR revealed five newly installed charging stations for employee use.
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