Bedbugs may be developing thicker “skins” that help them resist common pesticides, a new study suggests.
This might explain why bedbug populations are increasing worldwide, the researchers added.
“If we understand the biological mechanisms bedbugs use to beat insecticides, we may be able to spot a chink in their armor that we can exploit with new strategies,” study author David Lilly, from the University of Sydney in Australia, said in a university news release.
Bedbugs are parasites that feed on the blood of people and animals as they sleep; the insects can produce painful bites in their victims.
The new findings, published April 13 in the journal PLoS ONE, may lead to the development of more effective pesticides to fight bedbugs, the researchers said.
“Bedbugs, like all insects, are covered by an exoskeleton called a cuticle. Using scanning electron microscopy, we were able to compare the thickness of cuticle taken from specimens of bedbugs resistant to insecticides and from those more easily killed by those same insecticides,” Lilly explained.
The thicker their cuticle, the more likely the bedbugs were to survive when exposed to the insecticides, the study found.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on bedbugs.