Researchers in Florida are very concerned about the return of super bed bugs – those that are 100% immune to being killed by insecticides. Only one super bed bug has been discovered so far, and until more are confirmed we wouldn’t panic, but this news is not the best way to ring in 2017.
The exact definition of super bed bugs can vary, but most commonly they are defined as being immune to the most commonly used insecticides – with some sources even stating that super bed bugs are totally immune to all insecticides. This is in contrast to previous bed bugs who experienced a 30-100% mortality rate when exposed to pesticides. Even a 30% mortality rate is something to be concerned about however, as this means that in a given treatment 70% of the population will survive – more than enough to continue to reproduce and infest a home. Keep in mind that as bed bugs survive they continue to develop resistance to chemicals as well, through mechanisms such as a thicker skin.
Obviously, this news is very worrying; if this is indeed correct it would be the first time in sixty years that a super bed bug has been seen. As such, the department of food and agricultural science at the University of Florida is taking this very seriously and asking for anyone with bed bugs (dead or alive) to send them in for study. They’re primarily interested in bed bugs from inside the state of Florida, but anyone is encouraged to send their samples in for study. You can find more information on that here.
Keep in mind however that even if super bed bugs have returned they are still able to be killed quickly and easily through heat treatment. Neither thicker skins nor their other evolved methods of pesticide resistance have had any effect on heat treatments, and they still die at 120F. So if you’re fighting a bed bug infestation and having trouble killing them remember to use heat!