New bedbug pheromone trap to enter market next year

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

You know those bedbug epidemics from apartments and hotels in big cities you have heard about, or perhaps unfortunately experienced? Soon bedbug outbreaks can be treated quickly, easily and affordably.  Biologists have developed a new, effective bedbug trap through a painful process – by allowing bedbugs to feed on their own skin!  The researchers started their testing by creating a pheromone blend (pheromones are chemical compounds released especially by insects that influence the behavior of other individuals of the same species) that attracted bedbugs in the lab, but they realized the pheromones were not effective when tested in apartments with bedbug infestations. After more trials, they found histamine molecules attracts and keeps bedbugs on human skin. Histamines are released by the human body after allergens attach to antibodies, and then cause an allergic reaction.

One of the biologists on the research team who is immune to bedbug bites has been allowing the bedbugs being tested to feed on her arms, all in the name of science! After going through 35 experiments, the researchers discovered several compounds they mixed with histamine to create the most effective pheromone trap. They believe the bedbug traps will be sold commercially by next year. This trap captured 100% of bedbugs in field trials, and the chemicals in the trap only cost 10 cents!  Now, if only there was such an easy way to catch mosquitoes . . .

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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.