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A new fungal biopesticide developed by scientists at Penn State shows promise for the control of bed bugs, and is even effective against bed bugs that are insecticide resistant.

All but eradicated in the U.S. after World War II, likely due to use of DDT and other insecticides, bed bugs have made a serious come back over the past two decades.  The National Pest Management Association conducted a survey in 2015 and found that over 99 percent of pest controllers reported having treated for bed bugs in the past year, compared to just 25 percent 15 years earlier.

This resurgence of bed bugs led Penn State to look at entomopathogenic fungi, which have demonstrated effectiveness against other pest such as house flies and cockroaches.  “Aprehend” was developed, a natural fungus that causes disease in insects, and has been shown to be a long-lasting barrier treatment. After application of the fungal biopesticide, if a bed bug crosses the barrier, it picks up the fungus and will go on to spread it to other insects in the nest, resulting in 95 percent mortality within a week.

In addition to providing effective barrier control, further experiments were conducted involving bed bugs that are resistant to insecticides.  According to researchers, these experiments showed the biopesticide to be highly effective on the resistant insects.  Plans to commercialize Aprehend are in the works, and participants are hopeful that this alternative pest management solution will soon be available. Goodbye Bed Bugs!

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