Recent emergence of bed bugs (Cimex
spp.) has prompted a significant expansion of research devoted to this pest. The ability to survive and recover from stress has significant implications on the distribution and survival of insects, and bed bugs are no exception. Research on bed bug stress tolerance has shown considerable progress and necessitates a review on this topic. Bed bugs have an extraordinary ability to resist dehydration between bloodmeals, and this represents a critical factor allowing their prolonged survival when no host is available. High relative humidities are detrimental to bed bugs, leading to reduced survival in comparison to those held at lower relative humidities. Continual exposure of bed bugs, eggs and mobile stages, to temperatures below freezing and short term exposure (=1 h) to temperatures below −16 to −18 °C results in mortality. The upper thermal limit for short term exposure of eggs, nymphs and adults is between 40–45 °C for the common (Cimex lectularius
) and tropical (C
) bed bugs. Long-term exposure to temperatures above 35 °C results in significant reduction in survival of mobile bed bugs. Eggs for C
are no longer viable when held below 10 °C or above 37 °C throughout embryogenesis. Blood feeding, although necessary for survival and reproduction, is discussed as a stress due to thermal and osmotic fluctuations that result from ingesting a warm bloodmeal from a vertebrate host. Cold, heat, water stress and blood feeding prompted the expression of heat shock proteins (Hsps). Pesticide application is a common human-induced stress for urban pests, and recent studies have documented pesticide resistance in many bed bug populations. High levels of traumatic insemination (mating) of bed bugs has been linked to reduced survival and fecundity along with possibly exposing individuals to microbial infections after cuticular penetration by the paramere (=male reproductive organ), thus represents a form of sexual stress. Additionally, less common stress types such as microbial infections that have been documented in bed bugs will be discussed. Overall, this review provides a current update of research related to bed bug stress tolerance and how their ability to resist stressful conditions has lead to their expansion and proliferation.