In recent years, the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), became a major public health concern in urban communities. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to control, and their bites are not tolerated by most people. The public has an urgent need for materials and methods to reduce bed bug introduction and bites during work, travel, or sleep. A repellent product will help achieve these goals by discouraging and preventing bed bugs from moving to a protected area. We evaluated the repellency of three commercially available insect repellent or control materials and five nonregistered materials with the goal of identifying safe and effective bed bug repellents. The two commercial repellent products that contained 7% picaridin or 0.5% permethrin had little repellency against bed bugs. N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), the most commonly used insect repellent, provided a high level of repellency against bed bugs. When a host cue (carbon dioxide) was present, theminimum DEET concentration to repel ≥94% of the bed bugs for a 9-h period was 10%. The longevity of repellency of DEET was concentration dependent. At 25% concentration, DEET-treated fabric surface remained highly repellent to bed bugs for a 14-d period. However, DEET has a strong smell and dissolves certain plastic materials. Therefore, we evaluated several odorless, noncorrosive, and potentially effective repellents. Isolongifolenone and isolongifolanone, two natural products and recently reported insect repellents, exhibited strong repellent property against bed bugs but at significantly lower levels than DEET. Three novel potential repellent compounds discovered by Bedoukian Research Inc. (Danbury, CT) exhibited similar level of repellency and longevity as DEET for repelling bed bugs. These nonirritant and odorless compounds are promising candidates as alternatives to DEET for reducing the spread of bed bugs and bed bug bites.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science
- Bed bug
- Essential oil
- Natural product