Bed Bug DNA Tracking

Deoxyribonucleic acid, otherwise known as DNA, contains the genetic makeup for all living things.  DNA contains codes that provide specific information at the cellular level.  DNA codes are analyzed for a variety of different reasons.  It is commonly used for testing genetics, diseases and for solving different types of crimes.  DNA is also used for anthropology, archeology and paleontology.

According to BBC Nature News reported on July 11, 2012, like all other creatures, both alive and dead, the DNA found in bed bugs is aiding in tracking down bed bug origins.

Toby Fountain, a biologist from the University of Sheffield in England, is gathering information in hopes of tracking down the origins of the bloodsuckers in the “great bed bug boom”, which was first documented just after the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

The practicality of knowing the specific DNA of bed bugs is that eventually the bed bugs DNA will be able to reveal exactly where it has come from.  If pest control professionals keep a record (sample) when they provide services, they will be able to know if the entire colony has been properly eradicated if more bed bugs surface at the same location.  Bed bugs that are picked up from a hotel will also have the potential of being specifically identified.

In addition to gathering specimens in London, which is considered to be a “bed bug hotspot”, Mr. Fountain is also collecting bed bugs from international destinations.  Kenya is a prime bed bug collection site as bed bugs have always been a pest that people live with in Kenya.  Finding a genetic link to any collected bed bugs in Kenya would explain the global bed bug resurgence of 2000.