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HOW TO SURVIVE AN INSECTICIDE APPLICATION
 
A bed bug needs to be thick-skinned these days
It’s well known that bed bugs have some degree of resistance to most of the insecticides that we throw at them. What we don’t fully understand are the physiological factors that allow bed bugs to resist insecticides. Studies suggest that it’s a combination of resistance mechanisms or mutations that, over time, have allowed bed bugs to resist insecticides. Studies suggest that it’s a combination of resistance mechanisms or mutations that, over time, have allowed bed bugs to survive toxic chemicals. Development of a thicker cuticle has been thought to be one of the ways that bed bugs survive insecticides.

Researchers at the University of Sydney studied insecticide-resistant bed bugs and found that those who showed the greatest resistance had thicker cuticles (skins). The research team, headed by David Lilly, started with a group of bed bugs that were matched in age, diet, and development. The pyrethroid-resistant bugs were placed on a surface treated with Demand, a pyrethroid insecticide. Bed bugs are almost universally resistant to pyrethroids. As the bugs died, they were removed and separated into groups based on the amount of time it took for knockdown: 2 hours= “intolerant,” 4 hours= “tolerant”, and unaffected after 24 hours= “resistant”. The measurements showed that the length of time the bed bugs survived the insecticide treatment was related to the thickness of their cuticles. The most resistant group of bed bugs had cuticles that were thicker than those of pyrethroid-susceptible bed bugs and were 16% thicker on average that the intolerant group in the study.
It makes sense that if you are being exposed to a pesticide that is designed to be absorbed through your cuticle, the thicker your skin, the less you absorb and the more likely you are to survive. There’s a second mechanism going on as well. The slower response time to the toxin gives the bed bug time to produce enzymes to help detoxify the ability to survive on to your offspring. “ If we understand the biological mechanisms bed bugs use to beat insecticides we may be able to spot a chink in their armour that we can exploit with new strategies,” Lilly said.

 
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