Friday, November 13, 2009

Researcher hunts for safe solution to creeping bed bug population

By Kayla Duran
Contributing Writer
Source: Daily Targum University
Published: Thursday, November 12, 2009
Updated: Friday, November 13, 2009

Residents can sleep a little better tonight knowing that University Assistant Extension Specialist Changlu Wang is conducting research on bedbug prevention. This comes on the heels of rising numbers of bed bug cases in New Brunswick and the Northeast.Wang is conducting entomology research on different ways people can prevent the start and spread of bed bugs in an affordable manner, especially considering the high demand for new ways to combat bed bug infestation.“[The Northeast] is probably one of the most infested areas in our country. I have to respond. I receive a lot of questions because I have that extension [position]. … So naturally I have to do research on this so I can have the information,” Wang said.Bed bugs live in furniture and come out only to feed on their host. Humans are commonly victims because bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide and blood.“They are attracted by heat and carbon dioxide. They are attracted to your breath,” said Wang in a Rutgers FOCUS article.But bed bugs were not always so prevalent in this area. Due to the now-banned pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT, bed bugs were nearly extinct, according to the article.“[DDT] was very strong, very effective, but of course, in modern standards they are too strong, too dangerous,” Wang said.Wang said since DDT was so potent, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to ban it being used at homes because the residue can stay in a house for more than 50 years.Now with the increasing numbers of people traveling to foreign countries and bringing back the insects, as well as filthiness in urban areas, the bed bug has made a comeback, he said.Wang uses different contraptions in his experiments to determine infestation, such as a cat feeder-like mechanism used as boundary at the leg of a piece of furniture. The first circle of the device measures how many bed bugs are in the room and prevents them from getting to the furniture, he said.The second circle determines how many bed bugs come from the furniture itself and prevents them from infiltrating the rest of the room. “The compound that attracts bedbugs also kills them at high doses. Wang and his assistant, [Vincenzo] Averello, will test the lethality of various carbon dioxide concentrations and exposure times,” according to the article.Averello, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore double majoring in genetics and ecology, was attracted to the research because it involved both of his interests. “It has a bit of an ecology element to it, with a sense of [what] a whole population is doing. … Because effectively all studies are populations, [and that’s] what it comes down to here,” Averello said. “So that’s part of why I came here. … I’ve always had a thing for bugs since I was a little kid.”Maria Camacho, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, is fearful of the recent bed bug infestation in the area and would like to see effective change in prevention.“I feel like someone has to get the job done. So at least he’s doing something about it,” Camacho said. “And hopefully it’ll be something productive that has results.” For the meantime, Wang suggests that everyone be careful when they go to other homes and check to see if there are any brown spots on the sofa that might seem like bed bug infestation. He also suggests regularly checking furniture and rooms for any possible signs of infestation.

Source: Daily Targum University