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Insects 2011, 2(1), 22-35; doi:10.3390/insects2010022

Host-Seeking Behavior in the Bed Bug, Cimex lectularius

1,*  and 2
1 Department of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA 2 Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 December 2010 / Revised: 15 February 2011 / Accepted: 3 March 2011 / Published: 7 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bed Bugs: An Emerging Pandemic)
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The reemergence of the bed bug, Cimex lectularius Linnaeus, has recently spawned a frenzy of public, media, and academic attention. In response to the growing rate of infestation, considerable work has been focused on identifying the various host cues utilized by the bed bug in search of a meal. Most of these behavioral studies examine movement within a confined environment, such as a Petri dish. This has prevented a more complete understanding of the insect’s host-seeking process. This work describes a novel method for studying host-seeking behavior, using various movement parameters, in a time-lapse photography system. With the use of human breath as an attractant, we qualitatively and quantitatively assessed how bed bugs navigate their environment between its harborage and the host. Levels of behavioral activity varied dramatically between bed bugs in the presence and absence of host odor. Bed bugs demonstrated not simply activation, but attraction to the chemical components of breath. Localized, stop-start host-seeking behavior or alternating periods of movement and pause were observed among bed bugs placed in the environment void of human breath, while those exposed to human breath demonstrated long range, stop-start host-seeking behavior. A more comprehensive understanding of bed bug host-seeking can lead to the development of traps and monitors that account for unique subtleties in their behavior. The time-lapse photography system uses a large, artificial environment and could also be employed to study other aspects of the insect’s behavioral patterns.
Keywords: Cimex lectularius; bed bug; host-seeking; behavior; movement; time-lapse photography Cimex lectularius; bed bug; host-seeking; behavior; movement; time-lapse photography
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Suchy, J.T.; Lewis, V.R. Host-Seeking Behavior in the Bed Bug, Cimex lectularius. Insects 2011, 2, 22-35.

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