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J Econ Entomol. 2016 Apr 22. pii: tow034. [Epub ahead of print]

Effects of Ultralow Oxygen and Vacuum Treatments on Bed Bug (Heteroptera: Cimicidae) Survival.

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USDA-ARS, 1636 E. Alisal St., Salinas, CA 93905 (,
Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546 (


Control of bed bugs is problematic, balancing among efficacy, safety, and cost. In this study, ultralow oxygen (ULO) and vacuum treatments were tested on bed bugs to develop a safer, effective, and environmentally friendly solution to kill bed bugs on infested items. ULO treatments were established by flushing sealed enclosures with nitrogen. All life stages of bed bugs were found to be susceptible to ULO and vacuum treatments, and efficacy of the treatments increased with reduced oxygen levels, increased treatment time, and temperature. In the ULO treatments, 100% mortality of bed bug nymphs and adults and >98% mortality of bed bug eggs were achieved in the 8-h treatment under 0.1% O2 atmosphere at 30°C. Different levels of vacuum that yielded different oxygen levels were tested on all life stages of bed bugs. The susceptibility of different stages to vacuum treatments increased from nymphs to adults to eggs. Complete control of all life stages was achieved in 12 h under -982 mbar (-29.0 inHg) vacuum at 30°C. This study demonstrated that bed bugs were very susceptible to low oxygen stresses and ULO and vacuum treatments have potential to be used as effective and safe treatments to decontaminate bed bug-infested removable objects.


bed bug control; insect; pest; ultralow oxygen; vacuum


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