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Researchers Discover New Way to Get Rid of Bedbugs

Bedbug Research
(Photo : Flickr / SFU - University Communications / CC) Simon Fraser University scientist Regine Gries allowed 180,000 bedbugs to bite her so the research team could come up with a way to lure and trap the pests.

Researchers from British Columbia's Simon Fraser University have discovered a way to trap bedbugs and lure them away from people, Fox News reported.

They learned that these tiny insects are attracted to a type of chemical that can be used commercially to keep them out of people's beds.

For the study, the researchers gathered more than 180,000 bedbugs. To ensure they stay alive and are properly nourished, one of the researchers, Regine Gries, became the host of the insects for the duration of the study.

For about five years, she endured getting bitten by the bugs as her research partners continued to study them. She was chosen as the host because unlike other people, she is not allergic to the pests' bites.

"I calmed myself down thinking when human beings were still living in caves, they were probably bitten by bedbugs, by fleas, by mice and who knows what," she told the Canadian Press.

"So I think humans can endure this, and I'm lucky enough that I have no side effects, that I just can handle it," she added.

Due to her natural resistance, the research team, which included her husband Gerhard Gries, was able to monitor the behavior of the bugs.

They then discovered that the bedbugs are attracted to histamine, an organic compound produced by certain cells in the body. Once this chemical is detected, they flock to its origin, which is a person's skin.

Taking advantage of this discovery, the researchers used a combination of a pheromone blend, samples from the bedbugs' feces and histamine to successfully lure and trap the pests.

The researchers believe their invention will greatly help homeowners, hotel managers and landlords solve their bedbug problems. Currently, they are working with the manufacturing company Contech Enterprises Inc. to develop the bedbug trap for commercial use.

Gerhard Gries said once available, the device can be used to confirm if a home or establishment has a bedbug infestation.

"The biggest challenge in dealing with bedbugs is to detect the infestation at an early age," he told the SFU News.

"This trap will help landlords, tenants and pest-control professionals to determine whether premises have a bedbug problem, so that they can treat it quickly," he added. "It will also be useful for monitoring the treatment's effectiveness."

Tags Bedbugs, Study, Science

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