Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Got the travel bug? There's a good chance you do

If you like to travel, like I do, you'll be disturbed to hear it's getting harder to kill the vacationer's No. 1 enemy: bedbugs.

[caption id="attachment_7227" align="alignright" width="337" caption="Thanks to their genetics, some bedbugs are immune to pesticides."][/caption]

A new study out this week in the journal Scientific Reports finds that certain colonies of bedbugs can turn on genes in their outer shells that help them shrug off the effects of pesticides. Scientists from the University of Kentucky in Lexington studied 21 groups of bedbugs and found that these genes "detoxify" pesticides and stop them before they get into the bedbugs' nerve cells. In addition, researchers found that the bugs also have a pesticide-resistant gene in their actual nerve cells, called kdr. This kdr gene plus the genes in their outer shells mean these bugs have two defense mechanisms to fight our bug sprays.
Knowing the shell is helping bedbugs survive pesticides "implies that better formulations can be designed to penetrate the cuticle (the protective outer shell layer) more effectively and thus provide better control," says entomologist Changlu Wang from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

However, scientists are still scratching their heads, wondering when these bedbugs developed their resistance qualities.
"Was it in the past ten years? The past 50? Or are we looking at the past several hundred years or more?" Zachary Adelman, an entomologist from Virginia Tech, says in a recent article of National Geographic.

Adelman says discovering the answer to that question could help scientists figure out how quickly bedbugs are evolving and what we can do to control their populations.

My wife and I travel often and this is always a concern for both of us but, especially for her. It's sad news for travelers to hear that these pests are becoming more resistant to pesticides. If you do happen to bring them home they will take over very quickly which can cost a small fortune to rid yourself of the problem. Maybe it's better to just stay home. However, a friend once told a story of how they knew a couple that had an infestation of bed bugs that spread throughout their home from a picture frame they purchased at a yard sale. So, there is more than just one way to catch a bug.

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