Space & Innovation

Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

Today's bed bugs have thicker skin, making them resistant to common insecticides.

<p>Photo: Petr Reischig // Wikimedia</p>

Scientists may have found an explanation for the massive increase in bed bug infestations, over the past few decades. A team of researchers from the University of Sydney examined the biological mechanisms these blood-sucking insects have that makes them so difficult to kill. According to, David Lilly found that today's bed bugs tend to have a thicker skin that makes them resistant to most consumer insecticides.

Utilizing scanning electron microscopy, Lilly and team looked at the exoskeleton (or cuticle) of bed bugs that were more resistant to insecticide. Then, they compared those findings with cuticles from insects that were not resistant to insecticide.

The researchers found this thick exoskeleton was rendering most insecticides ineffective. These latest findings are in line with recent research from Virginia Tech and New Mexico State University. Lilly hopes that these findings will pave the way for new methods of fighting these pests.