Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation





First Advisor

Dr. Zachary C. DeVries

Second Advisor

Dr. Kenneth F. Haynes


Much of the United States population spends the majority of their time indoors and within the home. Not only are indoor arthropod pests an unsightly nuisance in our homes, but they can have serious impacts on human health, especially with chronic exposure. In addition to negative health impacts, costs associated with these medical impacts can be tremendous. For these reasons, it is critical to develop comprehensive strategies for pest reduction and mitigation of associated health impacts. The work outlined in this dissertation represent examination of the distribution of a hypothesized bed bug allergen within the indoor environment, identification of a known pan-allergen from bed bugs, and assessment of cockroach control products marketed to consumers in both lab and in-home trials.

In the first chapter of this dissertation, histamine levels in household dust were quantified from multiple locations within bed bug-infested and uninfested apartments. Histamine is a component of the bed bug aggregation pheromone that was recently identified as an environmental contaminant in homes with active bed bug infestations, posing a potential health risk to humans via skin contact or inhalation. In this study, the highest concentration of histamine was quantified from bedding material, followed by the wall behind the bed and the bedroom floor perimeter, which suggests that the bedroom should be the primary focus of bed bug histamine mitigation efforts. Furthermore, the quantification of histamine from homes without active bed bug infestations suggests that histamine from previous infestations can persist following pest eradication. These findings highlight the importance of histamine as a potential allergen and are central to the development of targeted mitigation strategies of bed bug histamine.

The second chapter identifies tropomyosin from bed bugs. Allergenic tropomyosin has been identified from forty invertebrate taxa, resulting in cross-reactivity between tropomyosin allergens and establishing tropomyosin as a panallergen. Tropomyosin was detected in bed bug cadavers that were mechanically fragmented and was detectable in bed bugs cadavers aged for 18 months. Additionally, a survey of pest management professionals showed a majority of survey respondents do not clean up or remove dead bed bugs, which may leave tropomyosin reservoirs in the home following bed bug treatment. Given the large population sizes bed bug infestations can reach and their close proximity to humans, the identification of bed bug-produced tropomyosin in this research provides a critical baseline for future evaluation of sensitization and cross-reactivity risk to humans.

The third chapter of this dissertation evaluates the efficacy of consumer-grade liquid and aerosol spray insecticides against German cockroaches in laboratory assays and the fourth chapter evaluates insecticide gel bait efficacy against German cockroaches in laboratory assays as well as an in-home field study. These consumer-grade insecticide products are often turned to by residents who do not have access professional pest control services. These studies demonstrate the lack of efficacy of these products against field populations of German cockroaches and under field conditions. For those living with cockroach infestations, this lack of available and effective tools for cockroach control perpetuates negative health impacts and decreased quality of life.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

Johnalyn M. Gordon was supported by the Pi Chi Omega Alain VanRyckeghem Scholarship in 2021 and Pest Management Foundation Scholarships in 2021 and 2022, as well as the Kerri Casner Environmental Sciences Fellowship (2021).

The studies in Chapters 4 and 5 were supported by a Housing and Urban Development Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Technical Studies Grant (Grant #: KYHHU0061-20)

ch2histaminedata.csv (5 kB)
Chapter 2 bed bug histamine data

ch3tropomyosindata.csv (2 kB)
Chapter 3 bed bug tropomyosin data

ch4cypermethrinresistancedata.csv (1 kB)
Chapter 4 German cockroach cypermethrin resistance data

ch4spraydirectexposuredata.csv (2 kB)
Chapter 4 direct exposure mortality data

ch4spraylimitedexposuredata.csv (26 kB)
Chapter 4 limited exposure mortality data

ch4spraycontinuousexposuredata.csv (4 kB)
Chapter 4 continuous exposure mortality data

ch5baitlabdata.csv (9 kB)
Chapter 5 laboratory efficacy of cockroach bait data

ch5baitfielddata.csv (3 kB)
Chapter 5 field efficacy of cockroach bait data

ch2tropomyosinpercentidentitymatrix.tiff (103933 kB)
Chapter 2 Supplementary Figure 1 Tropomyosin Percent Identity Matrix