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Biology

Causal Agent:

The two species of bed bugs (Insecta: Hemiptera: Cimicidae) usually implicated in human infestations are Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus. Although rare, humans may become incidental hosts of Cimex species of bats and birds.

Life Cycle:

bedbug lifecycle

Adults and all nymphal stages of Cimex spp. need to take blood meals from warm-blooded hosts, which are typically humans for C. lectularius and C. hemipterus, although other mammals and birds can be utilized in the absence of a human host. Female bed bugs lay about five eggs The number 1 daily throughout their adult lives in a sheltered location (mattress seams, crevices in box springs, spaces under baseboards, etc). Eggs hatch in about 4-12 days into first instar nymphs The number 2 which must take a blood meal before molting to the next stage. The bugs will undergo five nymphal stages ( The number 2 , The number 3 , The number 4 , The number 5 , The number 6 ), each one requiring a blood meal before molting to the next stage, with the fifth stage molting into an adult The number 7 . Nymphs, although lacking wing buds, resemble smaller versions of the adults. Nymphs and adults take about 5-10 minutes to obtain a full blood meal. The adults may take several blood meals over several weeks, assuming a warm-blooded host is available. Mating occurs off the host and involves a unique form of copulation called ‘traumatic insemination’ whereby the male penetrates the female’s abdominal wall with his external genitalia and inseminates into her body cavity. Adults live 6-12 months and may survive for long periods of time without feeding.

Life cycle image and information courtesy of DPDx.

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