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University Scientists work for natural bedbug remedy

Scientists with the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy are searching for a natural remedy to stop bedbug infestations.

Studies have shown that bedbugs are most active during summer months, and Amar Chittiboyina, NCNPR assistant director, said the problem goes beyond the scientific community.

“In the past few years, the number of bedbug infestations has risen, potentially impacting the hospitality industry,” Chittiboyina said in a news release. “The resources at the NCNPR make it an ideal research center for the discovery of a natural chemical as an insecticide.”

Funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Insect Management Program looks for a natural compound for management of pests affecting soldiers and the public. 

Researchers work in a biosafety lab at the Thad Cochran Research Center, where special precautions are taken to prevent the escape of any bugs. Though bedbugs are easily contained in the lab, that’s not the case in public areas. Bedbugs hiding in dark corners and crevices of hotel rooms or other spaces can survive as long as three months without food.

Bedbugs are not known to carry diseases, but can cause health problems for people who are bitten. Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR director, said the funding the department has received will help make what was once thought to be impossible, possible 

“We have such unique resources at the NCNPR that we can optimize and convert the knowledge we have into finding a safer solution, as there is currently no easy way to get rid of these bedbugs,” Khan said. “Having this funding from the USDA helps us to work toward our overall goals.”

If one has bedbugs in their home, the EPA recommends washing sheets in hot water, reducing clutter and hiding spaces and taking the necessary precautions to avoid passing on them to anyone else.