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July 11, 2019 3 min read

From recent studies carried out in the U.S, the potency of pesticides – such as neonicotinoids – on bedbugs are regularly decreasing. This implies that bedbugs are frequently coming up with improved resistance for chemicals that ought to kill them.

Research also discovered that bedbugs in Michigan and Cincinnati were not affected by insecticides – even at measures that are multiple times the amounts required to kill them. An insecticide concentration of nearly a thousand times the average level is what is now needed to kill bedbugs in specific places.

With the increase in the rate at which people travel around the world, bedbugs have grown to be a significant cause of concern in public places and hotels as they continue to spread and develop immunity against insecticides. People on transit end up with bites and reactions as a result of the increasing activities of these insects as well as the extreme difficulty encountered in eliminating them.

Therefore, given the rate at which they spread and reproduce, as well as their increasing immunity to insecticides, scientists are beginning to give more thoughts to other methods of eliminating these blood-sucking parasites from human environments.

Immunity History

In the 40s and 50s, bedbugs never constituted any cause for concern to humans because insecticides like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane were efficiently keeping the bugs in check. However, in the 60s, when bedbugs began to develop immunity against bug-killing chemicals, scientists began introducing an advanced combination of potent bug-killing compounds. An example of these advanced chemical mixtures is a solution of neonicotinoids and pyrethroids.

The effectiveness of these mixtures notwithstanding, scientists still contemplate their environmental impacts as they were also found to affect economic insects like bees and other animals negatively.

In the prevalent research, samples of bedbugs were gathered from Michigan and Cincinnati in 2012 and subjected to four separate mixtures and concentrations of neonicotinoid-based insecticides.

The samples of bedbugs exposed to neonicotinoid were then evaluated in the light of two other samples – one of which were bedbugs that were ever subjected to insecticides for three decades, and the other, a group of bedbug gathered from New Jersey in 2008 and are immune to pyrethroid-based pesticides.

While over 10milligrams of the neonicotinoid-based insecticide was required to kill over 50% of the recently collected samples, only less than half of a nanogram was needed to kill the same proportion of the 30-year-old samples. For the samples collected in New Jersey, researchers found that they exhibited immunity to the insecticides to an extent (not up to those of the recently collected samples).

This increasing immunity to insecticide exhibited by bedbugs has led researchers to conclude that these pests develop and secrete certain enzymes that help them decompose the toxic chemicals in pesticides.

In an interview with BBC, Dr. Alvaro Romero – a prominent writer from the NMSU – confirmed that “bedbugs secrete certain enzymes that make them resistant to chemical insecticides by breaking down chemical compounds present in the insecticides.” He also emphasized on the fact that the bedbug sample amassed from New Jersey had higher concentrations of these detoxifying enzymes in their systems.

Nonetheless, there isn’t sufficient evidence to conclude that all bedbugs within the US environ has developed complete immunity against insecticides. Scientists are only concerned that there’s no recent research in progress to produce another advanced insecticide formula of which bugs would not be immune to.

More Effective Techniques

Given the reproductive and insecticide resistance capacity of bedbugs in recent times, research and scientific efforts towards their elimination are currently shifting away from chemical methods.

Dr. Alvaro further states that “other bedbug eliminating methods like encasement and the use of extreme temperatures can be used in place of or along with chemical methods if bedbugs are going to be successfully eliminated.”

He further explains that science marvels at the insect’s ability to resist man’s efforts to manage them and that he is almost sure that no chemical methods may be developed in time to come to effectively control bedbugs as the pests would continue to develop better immunity against toxic chemicals.

In the end, he concluded that man might have to cohabit with bedbugs for a while until there’s a conducive social atmosphere to control the pesky insects effectively.


Insecticides are Becoming Less Effective on Bedbugs