Goodnight to the bed bug’s bite? Pest’s genetic make-up revealed

THE genetic make-up of bed bugs has been determined for the first time, raising hopes the annoying insect can be controlled.

Numbers of Cimex lectularius have surged by up to 500% a year in many countries, including Australia, in the past decade. In the US, the insect was poised to become one of the country’s major household pests, researchers said.

The spike in infestations has been attributed to frequent international travel, increased exchange of used furniture, less use of broad-spectrum insecticides such as DDT, and pesticide resistance.

US entomologists have now sequenced the genome of the bed bug, finding high levels of transcripts for cytochrome P450, a putative insecticide defence gene, in pesticide-exposed populations, compared with pesticide-susceptible populations.

PLoS ONE 2011; 6: e16336