Bed bug problems have been increasing since the 1980s, and accordingly, there have been intensive efforts to better understand their biology and behavior for control purposes. Understanding bed bug diffusion rates and dispersal patterns from one site to another (or lack thereof) is a key component in prevention and control campaigns. This study analyzed diffusion rates and dispersal patterns in a population of bed bugs, recently fed and unfed, in both one-dimensional and two-dimensional settings. When placed in the middle of a 71 cm × 2.7 cm artificial lane, approximately half of the bugs regardless of feeding status stayed at or near the release point during the 10 min observation periods, while about a fourth of them walked to the end of the lane. When placed in the middle of an arena measuring 51 cm × 76 cm and allowed to walk in any direction, approximately one-fourth of bed bugs, fed or unfed, still remained near their release point (no significant difference between fed or unfed). As for long-distance dispersal, 11/50 (22%) of recently fed bed bugs moved as far as possible in the arena during the 10 min replications, while only 2/50 (4%) unfed bed bugs moved to the maximum distance. This difference was significantly different (p
< 0.0038), and indicates that unfed bed bugs did not move as far as recently fed ones. A mathematical diffusion model was used to quantify bed bug movements and an estimated diffusion rate range of 0.00006 cm2
/s to 0.416 cm2
/s was determined, which is almost no movement to a predicted root mean squared distance of approximately 19 cm per 10 min. The results of this study suggest that bed bugs, upon initial introduction into a new area, would have a difficult time traversing long distances when left alone to randomly disperse.
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