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Are bedbugs and fleas developing ‘thicker skins’?

15 July 2016

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small blood sucking insects that live around the cracks and crevices of beds. Although unpleasant to think about, they crawl out at night attracted by body heat and carbon dioxide, and tend to bite humans around the face, neck and arms.


Bedbug (Cimex lectularius)

Bedbug (Cimex lectularius)


Thankfully, infestations are quite rare and are more commonly seen in places of short-term accommodation such as hostels and hotels. In the past, treatment and eradication has been difficult, but insecticides have usually been effective. However, this has been changing over recent times, as the insects have been developing resistance. One team of researchers from Australia has recently discovered a possible explanation for this. Using a scanning electron microscope, they have determined that resistant bed bugs have much thicker cuticles (skin) than their sensitive counterparts. This might prevent the insecticides getting into the bodies of bed bugs to exert their effects.

Although bed bugs are not a major problem for our pets, another insect – the flea – certainly is. There is growing concern that fleas are also developing resistance to some of the insecticides available for use on animals. Maybe they too are developing thicker skins? During the summer months in the UK flea numbers will be increasing, so it is important to protect pets with an effective and safe product. There is a vast selection of flea products on the UK market, so we recommend contacting your veterinary surgeon to discuss the best option for your pet.


Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis)

Cat Flea (Ctenocephalides felis)


See our Ectoparasites (fleas and other skin parasites) in dogs Information Sheet