Gene-Morphing Bed Bugs Now Virtually Indestructible
Have we properly freaked out about bedbugs yet this year? Not really? Let's do it, now! The Wall Street Journal published a piece today that had even our most hardened staff members quivering in their cargo shorts. Here are the scariest bits:
--"bedbugs may have boosted their natural defenses by generating higher levels of enzymes that can cleanse them of poisons." [THEY CAN PROVIDE THEIR OWN ANTIDOTE!]
--New York City bedbugs now are 250 times more resistant to the standard pesticide than bedbugs in Florida..."due to changes in a gene controlling the resilience of the nerve cells targeted by the insecticide." [THEY CAN MORPH THEIR OWN GENES!]
--"the ability of bedbugs to survive once-lethal doses of insecticides is the newest evidence that efforts to eradicate pests that plague humankind may make some of them stronger." [WE MAY BE MAKING THEM STRONGER!!!]
In fact, via the Journal,
Laboratory tests in the U.S., Europe and Africa show today's bedbugs can survive pesticide levels a thousand times greater than the lethal dose of a decade or so ago. "There is a phenomenal level of resistance," said bedbug entomologist Michael Siva-Jothy at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. "It has evolved very recently."
AND: They give that resistance to their bedbug-children! "Any surviving insects pass on traits to their offspring and to succeeding generations."
Itchy yet? Well, relax, say the scientists studying the bugs -- hopefully "understanding" them will help us learn to control them. (Guys, in real life, that almost never works.)