Bed bug infestations are a nightmare. The tiny, arseholish insects can resist all sorts of measures to kill them completely. Drawn-out infestations are a scourge, but also fairly common in big cities like New York. There are plenty of remedies, from all-natural bean leaves to special heated suitcases, but none are foolproof. One new weapon looks like the most useful tool to fight bed bugs, though. And it uses something found within our blood.
Researchers have identified a chemical blend that lures bed bugs with a 100 per cent success rate. The secret ingredient? Histamine, the thing our white blood cells release in an auto-immune response. Histamine is also one of the reasons your skin looks inflamed and irritated after bites from bed bugs, so this is an especially appropriate way to murder those fiendish mattress devils.
Pheromones, the chemicals animals release to communicate, are used to trap all sorts of bugs, including moths, stink bugs, and flies. Scientists have known that bed bugs could be trapped using pheromones for a while now, but they couldn't figure out the final component for a concoction that'd be irresistible to the pests. After 35 experiments, researchers at Simon Fraser team finally found out that histamine was the missing ingredient.
The complete bed bug-killing mix contains dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, (E)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-octenal, and 2-hexanone. These are known as "volatile" components, and they are what attracts bed bugs of all stages of development. The histamine is what makes the bugs stay in the trap.
According to Wired, traps with this new blend are expected to be available in late 2015. While there's always the chance that bed bugs will mutate until they become immune to the immobilising effects of the histamine, for now, this is a hopeful development in the Great Human War on Bed Bugs. [Wired]