Animals

Bed Bugs Show Resistance to Widely Used Chemicals

A common class of insecticide called neonicotinoids is no longer getting the job done.

Bed bugs, hard enough to kill already, have developed a resistance to some of the most commonly used insecticides.

Virginia Tech and New Mexico State University researchers have found in a new study that a class of insecticide called neonicotinoids, or neonics, are not doing as good a job anymore at killing the nightmarish itch-inducers.

The scientists compared colonies of bed bugs from Cincinnati, Ohio and Michigan that were collected in the wild with a colony that had been kept in isolation in a special lab and had never been exposed to neonics.

VIDEO: Top 5 U.S. Cities For Bed Bugs

The bed bugs that had never been exposed to neonics were killed easily with small amounts of insecticide, whereas the Michigan and Cincinnati bugs showed a whopping resistance, needing multiple times the dose -- 0.3 nanograms of insecticide took care of half the lab bed bugs, while 10,000 nanograms were needed to kill just 50 percent of the resistant bugs.

"Unfortunately, the insecticides we were hoping would help solve some of our bed bug problems are no longer as effective as they used to be, so we need to reevaluate some of our strategies for fighting them," said Troy Anderson, an assistant professor of entomology at Virginia Tech and study co-author, in a release.

"While we all want a powerful tool to fight bed bug infestations, what we are using as a chemical intervention is not working as effectively as it was designed and, in turn, people are spending a lot of money on products that aren't working," Anderson added.

10 Creepy Bugs That Could Be On Your Next Flight

Bed bug infestations have been on the rise coast to coast in the United States, infecting places such as homes, hotels, and shelters. Their bites can wreak havoc with people physically and emotionally, and eradicating them is often costly.

"Companies need to be vigilant for hints of declining performance of products that contain neonicotinoids," said study co-author Alva Romero, an assistant professor of entomology at New Mexico State University. "For example, bed bugs persisting on previously treated surfaces might be an indication of resistance."

"If resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods," Romero said.

The study has been published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

Insects and other creepy crawlies may be tiny, but their lineages are mighty, finds a new study that determined the common ancestor of mites and insects existed about 570 million years ago. The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Science, presents an evolutionary timeline that settles many longstanding uncertainties about insects and related species. It found that true insects first emerged about 479 million years ago, long before dinosaurs first walked the Earth. Co-author Karl Kjer, a Rutgers entomologist, explained that mites are arthropods, a group that's distantly related to insects. Spiders and crustaceans are also arthropods.

50-Million-Year-Old Mite Chomps Into Ant's Head

Spiders such as the huntsman spider can, like mites, trace their lineages back to about 570 million years ago, according to the new study. The researchers believe that the common ancestor of mites, spiders and insects was a water-dweller.

Photos: Giant Spiders to Freak You Out

Millipedes, such as the one shown here, as well as centipedes are known as myriapods. The most recent common ancestor of myriapods and crustaceans lived about 550 million years ago. Again, this "mother of many bugs" would have been a marine dweller. Kjer explained, "You can't really expect anything to live on land without plants, and plants and insects colonized land at about the same time, around 480 million years ago. So any date before that is a sea creature." Moving forward in time, the most common ancestor of millipedes and centipedes existed a little over 400 million years ago. The leggy body plan has proven to be extremely successful.

Leggiest Animal Thrives Near Silicon Valley

"This is an early insect that evolved before insects had wings," Kjer said. Its ancestry goes back about 420 million years. The common ancestor of silverfish living today first emerged about 250 million years ago. Dinosaurs and the earliest mammals likely would have then seen silverfish very similar to the ones that are alive now.

Photos: Faces of Bees, Flies and Friends

Dragonflies and damselflies have family histories that go back about 406 million years. Kjer said that such insects looked differently then, however. "For example," he said, "they had visible antennae." Their distant ancestors were among the first animals on earth to fly.

Dragonfly Drone Takes Flight

"Parasitic lice are interesting, because they probably needed either feathers or fur," Kjer said. As a result, they are the relative newbies to this list. Nonetheless, the researchers believe it is possible that ancestors of today's lice were around 120 million years ago, possibly living off of dinosaurs and other creatures then.

10 Worst Epidemics

Crickets, katydids and grasshoppers had a common ancestor that lived just over 200 million years ago, and a stem lineage that goes back even further to 248 million years ago. A trivia question might be: Which came first, these insects or grass? The insects predate the grass that they now often thrive in.

Nightmarish Cricket That Eats Anything Is Now Invading the US

Dinosaur Era fossils sometimes include what researchers call "roachoids," or wing impressions that were made by ancestors to today's roaches, mantids (like the praying mantis) and termites. "Some cockroaches are actually more closely related to termites than they are to other cockroaches," Kjer said, explaining that this makes tracing back their lineages somewhat confusing. He and his colleagues determined that the stem lineage goes back about 230 million years, while the earliest actual cockroach first emerged around 170 million years ago.

Cockroaches: The Ultimate Survivors

Termites and cockroaches have a tightly interwoven family history. Termites similar to the ones we know today were around 138 million years ago. Now we often think of termites as pests, but they are good eats for many different animals, which back in the day would have included our primate ancestors.

Flies like houseflies that often buzz around homes belong to the order Diptera, which has a family tree that goes back 243 million years ago. The most recent common ancestor for modern flies lived about 158 million years ago, according to the study. There is little doubt that the earliest humans, and their primate predecessors, had to contend with pesky flies and all of the other insects mentioned on this list. All of these organisms are extremely hardy. The researchers determined that, in the history of our planet, there has only been one mass extinction event that had much impact on insects. It occurred 252 million years ago (the Permian mass extinction), and even it set the stage for the emergence of flies, cockroaches, termites and numerous other creepy crawlies.

That Beer Smell? Designed to Attract Flies