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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #290971

Title: Repellency of selected chemicals against the bed bug, (hemiptra: Cimicidae)

item WANG, CHANGLU - Rutgers University
item LU, LIHUA - Guangdong Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item Zhang, Aijun

Submitted to: Medical Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/8/2013
Publication Date: 1/31/2013
Citation: Wang, C., Lu, L., Zhang, A. 2013. Repellency of selected chemicals against the bed bug, (hemiptra: Cimicidae). Medical Entomology. 106(6):2522-2529.

Interpretive Summary: Bed bug prefers to feed on human blood and can cause a number of health problems, including allergic symptoms and skin rashes. The established resistance of bed bug to DDT and other chemical pesticides has created a need for different and newer chemical approaches to protect people from bed bug bites. We evaluated three commercial products including DEET and five new insect repellent materials for repellency against bed bug in laboratory bioassay and found that DEET provided high level of repellency against bed bugs. However, it was not an ideal alternative because it is synthetic, has a strong smell, dissolves certain plastic materials, and can cause environmental pollution. The natural product called isolongifolenone, a recently USDA-patented insect repellent, and other new compounds also showed repellency against bed bugs, indicating that these non-irritant and odorless compounds were promising candidates for reducing the spread of bed bugs. The result from this research will help scientists and industries develop more efficient and safe products to control bed bug infestation, therefore, prevent bed bug bites and human habitat invasion.

Technical Abstract: In recent years, the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), became a major public health concern in urban communities. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to control and their painful bites are not tolerated by most people. The public has a strong need for materials and methods to prevent bed bug introduction and bites during work, travel, or sleep. We evaluated the repellency of three commercially available insect repellent/control materials and 5 new non-registered materials with the goal of identifying safe and effective bed bug repellents. The two commercial repellent products that containing 7% picaridin or 0.5% permethrin had little repellency against bed bugs. N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), the most commonly used insect repellent, provided high level of repellency against bed bugs. When a host cue (carbon dioxide) was present, the minimum DEET concentration to repel = 94% of the bed bugs for a 9 h period was 10%. The longevity of repellency of DEET was concentration dependent. At 25% concentration, DEET treated fabric surface remained highly repellent to bed bugs for a 2 wk period. However, DEET has a strong smell and dissolves certain plastic materials. We therefore evaluated several odorless, non-corrosive, and potentially effective repellents. Isolongifolanone and isolongifolenone, two recently patented insect repellents, exhibited strong repellent property against bed bugs but at significantly lower levels than DEET. Three novel natural compounds discovered by Bedoukian Research Inc. exhibited similar level of repellency and longevity as DEET for repelling bed bugs. These non-irritant and odorless compounds are promising candidates as DEET alternatives for reducing the spread of bed bugs and preventing bed bug bites.