Many types of household pests can be dispatched with a can of bug spray, but getting rid of bed bugs isn't so easy. This is because bed bugs are resistant to many of the pesticides that can be used to kill them. Here are three things you need to know about bed bugs and insecticide resistance.
Which pesticides are bed bugs resistant to?
Bed bugs are resistant to both pyrethroids and neonicotinoids. Pyrethroids are used in most household insecticides, and they work by attacking an insect's nervous system, which paralyzes and then kills them. Neonicotinoids include imidacloprid, the world's most commonly used insecticide. These pesticides are similar to nicotine and also target an insect's nervous system.
How did bed bugs become resistant?
Pyrethroids and neonicotinoids have been used for a long time. First-generation pyrethroids were introduced back in the 1960s, while neonicotinoids were developed in the 1980s. Since the average life span of a bed bug is between six and 12 months, bed bugs have been exposed to these pesticides for a number of generations. Over time, they've developed 14 different genes that protect them from pesticides, and they've passed these genes on to their descendants.
These genes help the bed bugs produce large quantities of an enzyme that breaks down toxins. When you spray a bed bug with a common household insecticide, it produces this enzyme. Resistant bed bugs also have a mutation in their nervous system that keeps the pesticides from binding to their nervous system, so they won't become paralyzed or die.
What does this mean for homeowners?
What this means for you is that getting rid of bed bugs inside your home will take a lot more than just a can of bug spray or a single visit from an exterminator. Since bed bugs are resistant to pesticides, exterminators need to use integrated pest management to get rid of them.
Integrated pest management uses a combination of chemical and non-chemical treatment methods, and it's a lot of work for everyone involved. For example, you may need to wash all of your clothing and bedding in hot water. You may also need to treat items that can't be washed, like suitcases, in a heat-generating device designed for this purpose. Your exterminator may also tell you to put household items in your freezer to kill the bed bugs. You'll also need to keep your house very clean to give the bed bugs fewer places to hide.
Since bed bugs are resistant to common insecticides, getting rid of them takes a lot more than just bug spray. Contact a licensed exterminator to help you get rid of the bugs with integrated pest management. Companies like Godfather's Exterminating Inc. may be able to meet your needs in this area.