NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Bed bugs have been frustrating New Yorkers for years, piggybacking on clothes, hitching rides in taxis, and worst of all cozying up in bed at night.
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco explained, researchers may be on the brink of a breakthrough against the virtually indestructible insects.
“Isn’t it amazing how this one insect causes this internal panic?” entomologist, Ralph Maestre said.
Now, it’s the bed bugs turn to worry, Maestre said. Thanks to a major scientific breakthrough that could lead to the first ever ‘bed bug trap.’
“It’s going to be a tremendous tool,” Maestre said.
A tremendous tool because bed bugs are very difficult to detect and even more difficult to get rid of.
“We decided to concentrate on chemical signals,” Professor Gerhard Gries, Simon Frazier University, explained.
Professor Gries and his team spent eight years and a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears to come up with a breakthrough. His wife Regine, a fellow biologist, acted as a guinea pig.
“At the peak of the research they were feeding at least 1,000 on this arm, and a thousand on the other arm every week, or sometimes even more,” she said.
She endured as many as 180,000 bed bug bites so the team could pinpoint the exact set of chemicals or pheromones that attract bed bugs and lead them to take shelter in one spot.
“So the idea is really to put the pheromone to the best possible use,” Professor Gries said.
The team determined that the best way to do that was to make a trap.
“Once they arrive at that shelter they will recognize the very important pheromone, and stay put,” he added.
The researchers are currently working with a commercial environmental company in developing a trap, but for now it is only meant to be a detection device.
The next step will be to create a trap that will capture the bedbugs, and one day eradicate them.