Pest control may undergo major innovation following the discovery of the gene responsible for giving insects their waterproof coating, which protects them from microbes and environmental stress.
The international research team, led by Joanne Yew from the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, identified the ‘spidey’ gene (nicknamed after Spiderman) in vinegar flies. The team hopes that with further study they can bridge the gap to pest species.
“When we knocked out spidey in adult flies, the flies exhibited several striking features: their lifespan was shortened by about 50 percent, they lost almost all of their waxy coating and flies frequently got stuck to the sides of the plastic vials and were unable to free themselves.”
Pest control is an issue for every human habitation and, particularly when dealing with insects, is a persistent problem. Infestations are incredibly difficult to avoid and once infected a building can need multiple treatments.
Orbis CEO, Guy Other, recently wrote an article for Cleaning and Hygiene Today, outlining the issue of bed bugs and fleas in the workplace. He says “the ability to remove an insect’s waxy coating could make their control easier and will enhance expert services.”
This is particularly important news in light of the study Orbis reported on earlier this year, revealing that bed bugs are developing a resistance to insecticides.