• Can APOLLO Help Slay Bedbugs?


Can APOLLO Help Slay Bedbugs?

May 02 2016

Bedbugs. Do you get itchy and start to scratch just at the thought of the little blighters feasting on you at night? For some people, bedbug bites elicit a minor allergic reaction — a small red bump similar to a mosquito bite — where they have been bitten in the night.

For everyone else it is the thought of these bugs crawling over them during the night that provokes the strongest reaction — for most people, this is just a shrug of the shoulders and shake of the head. But for some, bedbugs cause psychological problems that can lead to other ailments. And ignore bedbugs at your peril — infestations can take months or years to eradicate fully.

Like the fabled ‘cockroach surviving the nuclear winter’, bedbugs can be hard to find and kill. But now a UK company has developed a handheld bedbug detector that is based on space technology. Let’s take a look at bedbugs and say hello to APOLLO — not the son of Zeus — but a chromatography-based bedbug detector.

Cimex lectularius

Bedbugs — Cimex lectularius — are small blood sucking insects. They don’t only live in beds but — rather like recalcitrant teenagers — beds do seem to be their preferred habitat. Bedbugs are attracted by your body’s heat and the carbon dioxide you emit as you breathe. And although they are associated with bed, they are active at all hours.

Bedbugs are visible to the naked eye — they are flat, oval critters about 5mm in length. With a female laying 300 eggs in her lifetime, it is easy to see how an infestation can arise. After the eggs hatch, it takes about two months for the juveniles to grow into adults. During this time, juveniles need blood to mature — but once they reach adulthood, bedbugs for go for up to a year without feeding.

Once established, bedbugs can live virtually anywhere in your home — not just mattress seams and bed joints. And this makes it difficult to find them — especially when you might have several hundreds of beds to check as in a hotel. Step forward APOLLO.

APOLLO — monitoring bedbug sex with GC-MS

As pest control companies look for novel ways to find and remove bedbugs — a company called Insect Research Systems has turned to space technology — in the form of the gas chromatography -mass spectrometry technology used to detect gases on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

The company have incorporated the GC-MS technology into a handheld bug detector that can detect volatile organic compounds given off as bedbugs’ mate. The company is conducting a pilot trial with the hospitality industry to see how effective APOLLO is at helping to solve the bedbug problem.

GC-MS is becoming a commonly used technique and an ever more important tool — as described in this article, Adding more Power to your GC-MS Analysis through Deconvolution. Did you think that the box sitting on your bench could help you get a good night’s rest?

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