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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 #339319

Research Project: Prevention of Arthropod Bites

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Title: Toxicity of selected essential oils, silicone oils, and paraffino oil against the common bed bug, cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae)

item ZHA, CHEN - Rutgers University
item WANG, CHANGLU - Rutgers University
item Li, Andrew

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/18/2017
Publication Date: 12/6/2017
Citation: Zha, C., Wang, C., Li, A.Y. 2017. Toxicity of selected essential oils, silicone oils, and paraffino oil against the common bed bug, cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 111(1):170-177.

Interpretive Summary: The common bed bug Cimex lectularius resurged worldwide in recent decades. A number of synthetic insecticides have been frequently used by pest control professionals to attempt eliminating bed bugs from infested properties. Due to the wide-spread bed bug resistance to pyrethroids, their effectiveness against bed bugs becomes questionable. Many essential oil-based products have been developed for bed bug control in recent years in the United States. Such essential oils and other natural products are exempt from certain registration requirements by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), and efficacy test is often not required. As such, there is a lack of information regarding efficacy of those natural bed bug control products. USDA ARS scientists collaborated with researchers at Rutgers University in an effort to evaluate efficacy of a number of essential oils and several silicone and paraffin oils against bed bugs in laboratory. Results of toxicity bioassays indicate that most essential oils were only moderately toxic to bed bugs. However, the essential oil extracted from blood orange, the paraffin oil, one of the silicone oils were among the most toxic to bed bugs in bioassays. A water solution of the silicone oil was highly effective when used as direct spray. The study demonstrated the potential of those materials for commercial development of new bed bug control products.

Technical Abstract: The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) resurged in the U.S. and many other countries over the past decade. The need for safe and effective bed bug control products propelled the development of numerous “green pesticides”, mostly with essential oils listed as active ingredients. Various inorganic and organic oils also were used for bed bug management. However, there are no published studies on their toxicity against bed bugs. In this study, we screened 18 essential oils, 3 silicone oils, and paraffin oil for their toxicity against bed bugs. All the oils exhibited insecticidal activity in topical assays. Their toxicity varied significantly; all of the evaluated essential oils were less effective than silicone oils and paraffin oil. The LD50 values of the most effective essential oil (blood orange), paraffin oil (Dodecamethylpentasiloxane), and the most effective silicone oil (Dodecamethylpentasiloxane) are 0.184 ± 0.018, 0.069 ± 0.012, and 0.036 ± 0.005 mg/bug, respectively. Direct spray of 1% water solution of 3-[Hydroxy (polyethyleneoxy) propyl] heptamethyltrisiloxane, the only silicone oil that mixes well with water, resulted in 91.7% bed bug mortality after 1 d. Results of this study indicate silicone oils and paraffin oil have the potential to be used as safer alternative bed bug control materials.