Canadian scientists develop trap to lure blood-sucking bed bugs
The bait, which the scientists say will be commercially available
next year, turned out to be a real ordeal to develop.
Regine Gries, one of the biologists on the team, discovered the needed pheromones after acting as a host to thousands of bedbugs during her research.
“You can feed it on the blood of chickens or guinea pigs, but that’s not their preferred blood. To get the best results, and not jeopardize their chemical profiles, it was important to feed them human blood,” Gries told National Post.
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) December 23, 2014
Luckily, because Gries is immune to the bites, she only developed
a slight rash – as opposed to the painful itching and swelling
that most people experience.
The insects were largely wiped out after the Second World War, but have made a comeback, particularly in the US and Canada.
The hardy little bugs can go for months without feeding, meaning they can lie undetected in furniture and mattresses.
“The biggest challenge in dealing with bedbugs is to detect the infestation at an early stage. 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,” said researcher Gerhard Gries in a news release on Monday.
— Ent Soc of Canada (@CanEntomologist) December 23, 2014
When the research began eight years ago, the scientists isolated
a pheromone mix that attracted bedbugs in lab conditions, but not
in actual areas where bed bugs were living. After two years of
research, Gries and SFU chemist Robert Britton discovered the
crucial chemical histamine, which literally signals safe shelter
to the blood-sucking bugs.
The team is now working with Victoria-based Contech Enterprises Inc. to develop the bed bug trap commercially.