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Thick-skinned bed bugs are beating bug spray

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(Credit: CDC)

Remember when you were tucked into bed as a kid and told not to let the bed bugs bite? That just got a lot harder to do.

A new study reveals that bed bugs have developed a thicker skin that enables them to survive exposure to commonly used bug sprays, according to University of Sydney research published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Bed bugs are bloodsucking parasites. Unfortunately for us, their meal of choice is human blood. There has been a global resurgence of bed bugs in the past few decades because trying to kill the bugs has only made them stronger, according to the new study and other previous research.

If you’re thinking of escaping a bed-bug infestation at home, a hotel bed might not be a much better option. The parasites have caused significant financial headaches for the tourism and hospitality industries. Professional extermination of bed bugs typically costs $200 to $1,500 per room and often fails.

The Australian study, which was funded in part by Bayer Crop Science, which makes products that kill bed bugs, found that the thicker the insect’s natural covering, the more likely the bed bugs were to survive exposure to the insecticides.

These findings could help in developing more effective insecticides for bed bug control.

“If we understand the biological mechanisms bed bugs use to beat insecticides, we may be able to spot a chink in their armour that we can exploit with new strategies,” David Lilly, University of Sydney doctoral candidate, said in a statement.

While researchers continue to find bed bugs weakness, the war against these parasites continues.