The re-emergence of the bed bug as a nuisance pest: implications of resistance to the pyrethroid insecticides

Med Vet Entomol. 2012 Sep;26(3):241-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2915.2011.01006.x. Epub 2012 Jan 11.


A global resurgence of bed bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) has led to renewed scientific interest in these insects. The current bed bug upsurge appears to have started almost synchronously in the late 1990 s in Europe, the U.S.A. and Australia. Several factors have led to this situation, with resistance to applied insecticides making a significant contribution. With a growing number of insecticides (DDT, carbamates, organophosphates etc.) being no longer available as a result of regulatory restrictions, the mainstay chemistry used for bed bug control over the past few decades has been the pyrethroid insecticides. With reports of increasing tolerance to pyrethroids leading to control failures on the rise, containing and eradicating bed bugs is proving to be a difficult task. Consequently, several recent studies have focused on determining the mode of action of pyrethroid resistance in bed bug populations sourced from different locations. Correct identification of the factor(s) responsible for the increasing resistance is critical to the development of effective management strategies, which need to be based, wherever possible, on firm scientific evidence. Here we review the literature on this topic, highlighting the mechanisms thought to be involved and the problems currently faced by pest control professionals in dealing with a developing pandemic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bedbugs / drug effects*
  • Bedbugs / physiology*
  • Ectoparasitic Infestations / prevention & control
  • Genetic Fitness
  • Insect Control / standards
  • Insecticide Resistance*
  • Insecticides*
  • Nymph / drug effects
  • Nymph / physiology
  • Population Dynamics
  • Pyrethrins*


  • Insecticides
  • Pyrethrins