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Bed bugs are not signatories of the Geneva Convention, and scientists are putting genetic warfare on the table.

A study published this week in Nature Communications sequenced the genome of the common bed bug, revealing possible ways the increasingly-hardy parasite could be kept out of people's homes.

One of the principal findings of the study is that bed bugs are easier to kill early on in their life cycle. During their nymph stage, before they have fed on any human blood, the bugs have a thinner skin and the genes that govern its self-defense have not been switched on yet.

But its defenses, once switched on, are formidable, according to the study. The sequence found a variety of enzymes bed bugs produce to remove toxins and other insecticides that might kill them.


This study comes just a few weeks after a similar study in the Journal of Entomology found that insecticide-resistant bed bugs in Cincinnati and Michigan needed concentrations of toxins 1,000 times greater than normal bed bugs.

Another possible weakness that the study found is the "microbiome" of the bed bugs, that is the relationship between the insects and the many bacteria that live in and around them.


""We have been learning so much about microbiomes recently, and we know that it's not just that micro-organisms live on and in individuals, but in many ways play a critical role," study co-author Dr. George Amato told the BBC.

That's potential good news for humans who only ever wanted to sleep in a bed free of vermin.