Can alcohol keep bed bugs from biting?

by nobugsonme on June 1, 2012 · 2 comments

in alcohol, bed bugs, research

No, I don’t mean using rubbing alcohol as a contact kill spray.

The question is: will getting a bit tipsy will have any effect on the bed bugs which are biting you?

Ralph Narain, a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, presented his research on the “Effects of various blood alcohol concentrations on bed bugs (Cimex lectularius)” at the 2012 National Conference on Urban Entomology last week in Atlanta.

According to Life’s Little Mysteries, using 200 proof ethanol in expired blood bank blood samples, Narain found that bed bugs consumed more blood when it had no alcohol in it, and that they consumed incrementally less blood when it contained higher levels of alcohol — the higher the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the less blood consumed, and the fewer eggs the bed bug subsequently laid.

For now, this knowledge is limited in its practical application.  Not only would drinking more potentially cause humans various health troubles, but raising your BAC levels is also is not going to eliminate bed bugs or keep them from feeding and breeding.

As Life’s Little Mysteries notes,

While the bed bugs do feed less on alcohol-laced blood, they still feed, and while they lay fewer eggs, up to 95 percent still hatch. And it just takes a few to create a nuisance.

Dini Miller, an entomologist and bed bug expert from Virginia Tech, agreed: “I don’t know what sort of implications it has ultimately, because unfortunately they still produce enough eggs to cause an infestation. So while they feed less, still, we’re not going to experience less of a problem. But it’s very interesting to know.”

It’s very interesting!  People have often wondered on our forums whether certain foods, alcohol, or drugs might be off-putting to bed bugs.

It sounds like Narain is also testing certain drugs in a similar manner, and it will be very interesting to see what he finds, and whether any of it can lead to practical applications in the fight against bed bugs.

In the meantime, I wouldn’t trade in your pest control treatment program for a few cases of Shiraz.

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1 Crime Scene Clean July 25, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I wonder if this has to do with the bed bugs intolerance for dehydration. It’s all I can think of when it comes to that question.

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