Researcher Zach DeVries and his colleagues hope this new knowledge will lead to the development of a new management strategy for these parasitic insects.
It was already established that bedbugs are attracted to certain odors, carbon dioxide and the heat given off by the human body. But, unlike other parasites like lice, bedbugs do not linger on humans.
After the meal, they leave their hosts to hide in nearby places, such as mattresses, says DeVries.
We therefore hypothesized that while certain smells in human skin attract hungry bedbugs, other compounds may also prevent them from staying there., explain the researchers of the study.
To successfully identify them, the team first collected samples by rubbing a strip of filter paper on the skin of participants representing different age groups and ethnicities.
She then conducted tests with populations of bedbugs raised in the laboratory and collected in the field. Their results are clear, even with minimal amounts of lipids:
Bedbugs do not like to put their feet on the triglycerides in the skin and refuse to stay on surfaces that contain it, summarizes Sudip Gaire, who participated in the work published in the Scientific Reports (New window) (in English).
Researchers now want to establish what causes this aversion to triglycerides. They would also like to determine if there are other potential bed bug repellents in human skin.
Our discovery could give rise to several possibilities of parasite management, argues DeVries.
It could possibly help reduce their spread.