Bed Bug Research

A selection of research on bed bugs from around the world.

Bed Bug Origins

Scientists at the University of Tulsa have determined that bats were the original hosts of the bugs that infest homes around the world today.

Bats introduced bed bugs to human populations when both humans and bats were living in caves.

Since the bug went from bat to human it evolved, and has changed very little since.

Bitten for Science

A biologist at Simon Fraser University allowed herself to be bitten by bed bugs 180,000 times over eight years in pursuit of a new kind bedbug bait and trap.

Regine Gries says that as a result, she and her team have created a first of its kind trap that will provide early detection of bed bug problems. The trap emits pheromones that signal “safe shelter” to the bed bugs, luring and keeping them inside. Once the bed bugs come into contact with the chemical, they remain inside the trap, regardless of hunger.

Gries and her team have successfully tested the trap in metro Vancouver, and it will be available commercially in the next year. A valuable tool to be used by Toronto bed bug exterminators.

Bed Bugs as Disease Carriers?

A University of Pennsylvania study has found that bed bugs are capable of carrying Chagas disease, which can lead to heart and stomach complications, and in extreme cases, can be fatal.

The find is a significant one as bed bugs have always been thought to be incapable of transmitting disease, unlike other parasitic insects such as ticks or mosquitoes.

Chagas is traditionally transmitted by the kissing bug, and currently infects over 300,000 Americas; however, researchers contend that the disease could become much more prevalent through bed bugs, which are harder to detect and kill, and come into contact with humans much more often.

A Natural Solution?

Reaching back to an old European folk practice, researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Kentucky are investigating the possibility of creating a non-toxic, non-chemical solution to bed bugs.

For many years in southeast Europe, locals with bed bug problems have used kidney beans to treat the infestation. Traditionally, kidney bean leafs are spread across the floor at night. In the morning, the leaves, now full of bed bugs, are swept out of the house.

Researchers found that the tiny sharp hairs on the underside of the leaves act like miniature “fish hooks” trapping the bugs on the surface. The scientists are now attempting to replicate the leaves synthetically. The hope is that a functional non-toxic option will help relieve the problems of an increasingly pesticide resistant bed bug population.