Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Battling Bedbugs Naturally

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Battling Bedbugs Naturally

Article excerpt

Bedbugs infest thousands of homes and hotel rooms throughout North America and Europe. Increased travel, wide-spread insecticide resistance, and changes in pest management practices have been blamed. Now, biopesticides--naturally occurring microorganisms--might provide a weapon against this bloodsucking pest, according to a team of Penn State entomologists.

Preliminary studies of the effects of Beauveria bassiana--a natural fungus that causes disease in insects--on bedbug control are encouraging, says Nina Jenkins, senior research associate in entomology, who reported results with her colleagues in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology.

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

In their study, the researchers applied spore formulations to paper and cotton jersey, a common bed sheet material. Then control surfaces, again paper and cotton jersey, were treated 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 bedbugs exposed to the biopesticide became infected and died within five days. …

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