Bug Bombs May Be More Dangerous to You Than the Cockroaches You Want to Kill

iStock.com/BarnabyChambers
iStock.com/BarnabyChambers

The resilience of German cockroaches is no myth. Their diet consists of basically anything, from actual food to flakes of skin and wallpaper. They’re small enough to squeeze out of sight. They can produce up to 400 offspring in a single year. And they laugh at bug bombs for houses.

According to a new study, bug bombs are not only ineffective at killing German cockroaches; they’re probably more dangerous to other occupants of the residence. Namely, you.

The study, conducted by North Carolina State University entomologist Zachary DeVries and published in BMC Public Health, recently shed some light on the issue. DeVries and his team solicited the participation of 30 residential homes with documented cockroach infestations and used gel bait traps in 10 of them. For the rest, researchers used total release foggers, also known as a bug bombs, that release airborne pesticides affecting a bug's nervous system. To assess the efficacy of each, cockroaches were captured and kept near the site of the treatment to maximize the chances of the bugs receiving exposure to them.

Within a month, the gel bait traps reduced German cockroach populations in treated homes by two-thirds or more. Homes treated with bug bombs had no discernible effect on the roaches. Some sites actually saw an increase in the bugs.

German cockroaches have a sturdy constitution when it comes to poison. The bug bombs, researchers noted, are no guarantee of providing a toxic plume even if it reaches the roach. And even that can prove difficult, since the bombs can’t spread through all areas of the house where the bugs might be found. Gel bait traps entice the cockroaches to enter by offering a sweet smell. Consumption of the poison or entrapment results in mass cockroach expiration.

Aside from being a waste of money, bug bombs carry a secondary threat of being toxic to humans. The release of chemicals into a living space can be irritating for some, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documenting several cases related to exposure. Sometimes, people overestimate the number of bombs needed, saturating their indoor living space with breathable chemicals. They can also leave residue on surfaces like kitchen counters.

Ultimately, gel bait traps are a reasonable solution for mild infestations. If your problem is so severe you’re considering bombing your house with chemicals, it’s probably best to call a professional instead.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Bombshell, Victoria’s Secret’s Bestselling Fragrance, Also Happens to Repel Mosquitoes

Dids, Pexels
Dids, Pexels

People love Bombshell, the best-selling fragrance at Victoria’s Secret, for its summery blend of fruity and floral notes. Not everyone is a huge fan, though: As Quartz reports, the perfume is surprisingly good at warding off mosquitoes. In fact, it’s almost as effective as DEET insect repellent, according to the results of a 2014 experiment by researchers at New Mexico State University.

Researchers took 10 products that are commercially available and tested their ability to repel two different species of mosquitoes: the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), both of which are known to transmit diseases like dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. In doing so, volunteers subjected their own flesh to the test by placing their hands on either side of a Y-shaped tube containing the blood-sucking critters. One hand was covered in a synthetic rubber glove, while the other hand was sprayed with one of the products but otherwise left bare. Researchers recorded which tunnel the mosquitoes flew to, and how long they avoided the other end.

Three of the products contained DEET, while four products didn’t. In addition, there were two fragrances (including Bombshell) and one vitamin B1 skin patch. The DEET products were the most effective, but Bombshell proved to be nearly as good, keeping mosquitoes at bay for roughly two hours.

“There was some previous literature that said fruity, floral scents attracted mosquitoes, and to not wear those,” Stacy Rodriquez, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “It was interesting to see that the mosquitoes weren’t actually attracted to the person that was wearing the Victoria’s Secret perfume—they were repelled by it.”

This isn’t the first time a perfume has had an unintended effect on the natural world. It turns out that tigers are obsessed with Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men cologne, partly because it contains a synthetic version of civetone, a pheromone that's secreted by glands located near a civet’s anus. This substance was once used to create musky fragrances, but nowadays the scent is mostly reproduced in a lab. Still, the fake stuff must be pretty convincing, because big cats go crazy when they catch a whiff of it.

[h/t Quartz]

Mystery Solved: Scientists Have Figured Out Why Some Squirrels Are Black

Rena-Marie/iStock via Getty Images
Rena-Marie/iStock via Getty Images

It can be something of a surprise to see an animal sporting a fresh coat of paint. Blue lobsters occasionally surface after being caught in traps. A pink dolphin was spotted in Louisiana in 2007 (and several times since). In the Chinese province of Shaanxi, a cute brown and white panda greets zoo visitors.

Another anomalous animal has joined their ranks. Black squirrels have been spotted in both the United States and the UK, and now scientists believe they know why.

Like many animals with unusual color schemes, black squirrels are the result of a genetic detour. Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge University, and the Virginia Museum of Natural History collaborated on a project that tested squirrel DNA. Their findings, which were published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, demonstrated that the black squirrel is the product of interspecies breeding between the common gray squirrel and the fox squirrel. The black squirrel is actually a gray squirrel with a faulty pigment gene carried over from the fox squirrel that turns their fur a darker shade. (Some fox squirrels, which are usually reddish-brown, are also black.)

A black squirrel is pictured
sanches12/iStock via Getty Images

Scientists theorize a black fox squirrel may have joined in on a mating chase involving gray squirrels and got busy with a female. The black fur may offer benefits in colder regions, with squirrels able to absorb and retain more heat, giving them a slight evolutionary edge.

In North America, black squirrels are uncommon, with one estimate putting them at a rate of one in every 10,000 squirrels. In 1961, students at Kent State University in Ohio released 10 black squirrels that had been captured by Canadian wildlife authorities. The squirrels now populate the campus and have become the school’s unofficial mascot. Their coloring might help them hide from predators, which might come in handy at Kent State: The campus is also home to hawks.

[h/t The Guardian]

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