New UC Research May Change Jacksonville Pest Control Doctrine

[University of Cincinnati, April 9, 2013]

As if trapped in a never-ending B movie about evil invaders, Cincinnatians have been tormented by a six-legged scourge for years. To the chagrin of many throughout the Queen City, this monster isn’t an actor in a rubber alien costume; it’s the real thing – Cimex lectularius, better known as the common bed bug. The tiny, bloodsucking arthropods have burrowed so deeply and so broadly into the cracks, crevices and cushions of Greater Cincinnati’s households, they’ve literally given the city an itch it can’t scratch enough to make it go away. But there’s hope. Regina Baucom, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati, has researched the DNA of local bed bug populations, and she’s found something that could lead to a better way to control the notoriously tough insects.

To be frank, bed bugs aren’t just Cincinnati’s problem (they just have it worse). As long as they multiply faster than they die, bed bugs can be found from Florida to Alaska; but the research above may just be the breakthrough every household needs. It may even change the way professional exterminators like BugManiacs handle pest control in Jacksonville. With further study, many will see pest control shift to biocontrol soon.

Studies about bed bugs are as abundant as the bugs themselves, but the UC study is the first of its kind. It delves deeper into the nature of bed bugs, specifically the kind of bacteria they possess, in hopes of finding a solution. Researchers discovered the relationship between the microbes and the bugs in staying healthy, as well as thriving at an alarming rate. Biocontrol will use the necessary microbes to counter the microbes in the targets.

This may sound like biological warfare because it is (in a way). Biocontrol is more common in pest control on crops, given that chemical pesticides may deposit harmful fallout to the goods. In the case of the bed bugs, researchers need to find out how to counter two common bacteria found in nearly all the bed bugs studied. One of them is wolbachia, which has been the focus of past studies in insect-borne disease control.

If met with significant success, insect biocontrol will be more prevalent in household pest control in Jacksonville, Florida and other places. Researchers hope Cincinnati won’t have to face the shame of being a consistent topnotcher for bed bugs.