How DDT Made Bed Bugs Resistant to Pesticides
Bed bugs have been with us since prehistoric times. However, it is interesting to note that the widespread use of DDT in the 1940s and 50s brought them to the edge of extinction in the United States, which is why the pests were considered to be a non-issue until recent times. Unfortunately, DDT is one of the main reasons that bed bugs have managed to make a comeback.
To understand this phenomenon, it is important to note that natural selection means that living organisms tend to become better and better-suited to their environments over time because the ones with the most suitable characteristics will be the most successful at passing them onto their children. The widespread use of DDT ensured that the bed bugs with the most resistance to its effect would be the same as the bed bugs with the most suitable characteristics by killing off either all or almost all of their competitors, meaning that their population became more and more resistant with each use.
What is interesting is that the increasing resistance of bed bugs to DDT corresponded with an increasing resistance to common pesticides such as pyrethrins and pyrethroids that see frequent use in the present. This is because DDT and those pesticides kill their targets by propping open the pores in their nerve cells that open up to let in sodium, causing a constant firing of the nerves that culminate in a fatal paralysis. As a result, when bed bugs became resistant to DDT because of a small mutation involving 2 of the 2,000 amino acids that make up part of the relevant mechanism in their nerve cells, they became resistant to those other chemicals as well, which explains why pesticides have become such a sub-optimal solution to bed bug infestations.
What Can People Do About Pesticide-Resistant Pests?
Fortunately, there are other potential solutions to the problem of bed bug infestations. For example, there is heat treatment, which circulates heated air throughout an infested building to ensure a 100 percent kill rate in an effective and efficient manner while leaving nothing behind. As a result, it is the perfect choice for people who want to make sure that their bed bug infestations are removed without calling too much attention to themselves in the process.
Interested in learning more about why heat treatment is so useful for bed bug extermination compared to other solutions? Please contact us for further inquiries.