During school biology classes, one learns that parasites get their nutrients from another living organism – a host – without killing it. In most cases the host survives but the parasite can cause a lot of discomfort. A predator on the other hand quickly kills its victim.
Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) are on the borderline between being a true parasite and a temporary bloodsucker. They attack only at night and suck blood, much like a mosquito. The flea however is more faithful to its host and is more of a parasite.
Bedbugs have evolved in parallel with the course of human history. The insect doesn’t spread diseases but can still cause misery. With the increase in travel in recent decades, bedbugs hitch rides in suitcases from hotel rooms and are increasingly prevalent.
Difficult to clean
Bedbugs hide in cracks and crevices. Nine times out of ten they live in and around beds sucking blood under the cover of night but disappear quickly if disturbed. They are difficult to detect and kill. Traditional extermination methods include spraying insecticide around walls, beds and furniture. But this is not always so successful as the bug has a unique capability to resist various toxins. And since bedbugs mainly stay in or near beds, applying insecticide in a way that does not affect the people or pets in the room is difficult.
But hard times await bedbugs!
The new environmentally friendly control method is based on a Lund-based Nattaro Labs invention. The company name is inspired by the old Swedish adage: “A man gets no rest with lice and borrowed money,” the key Swedish word being ‘Rest’ or ‘Nattro.’
Something the bedbugs like
Nattaro Labs has developed a product containing a powder of fossilized diatoms (diatomaceous earth). It is a pure natural material composed of fossilized remnants / deposits of algae that lived thousands of years ago and which today is mined in quarries or in mines around the world. Its structure breaks through the insect’s shell forcing dehydration and death. The method works well in practice. One problem is that if the powder is placed in a room it can easily blow away. The effect of the powder deteriorates with moisture and dust.
“We’ve solved the problem with an efficient trap for the bedbugs,” says Magnus Bäckmark, Technical Director of Nattaro Labs. “Nattaro Safe is constructed of folded paper with an adhesive backing. The insides are coated with a thin layer of diatomaceous earth, a natural material that damages the pest’s protective wax layer and shell, making them dry out and eventually die. Bed bugs are drawn to Nattaro Safe’s construction – a dark, tight paper tunnel filled with lots of places to hide. The bedbugs really like it.”
The cardboard strip is called Nattaro Safe and is manufactured by Nolato Lövepac in Fagerhult in Skåne in 30 meter-long rolls.
“This prevents the bedbugs’ march. The traps are long lasting, functional, non-toxic and convenient to use. And the bedbugs do not develop resistance to the diatomaceous earth. The effect is rapid and pests begin to die within 24 hours. For best effect, the trap should sit for 12 months to prevent and deter a potential attack. Nattaro Safe is patented in Sweden and patent pending in Europe and other markets of interest,” says Bäckmark.
“The strips are sold mainly to pest control companies but its success means that private individuals have also become interested. As part of our preventive work against bedbugs, we have also developed the app RestAssure. It describes how to avoid and deal with bedbug infestation,” concludes Bäckmark.
Bloodhounds for bedbugs
In addition to trapping the bugs, Nattaro Labs has developed a product used to train sniffer dogs in finding bedbugs. The equipment consists of a 50 mm long acrylic pipe networks in both ends for a free flow of air.
The article was published in May 2015