Estimating the feeding rate of the bedbug Cimex lectularius in an infested room: an inexpensive method and a case study.

Abstract

The common bedbug, Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), is a globally re-emerging pest that is playing an increasing role in legal disputes and compensation claims as a result of its unpleasant feeding activity. However, there is little information about the feeding frequency of bedbugs outside controlled laboratory cultures. Here, we present a simple method of estimating the average time since the last bloodmeal of individual female bedbugs in a single sampling event, applicable to a single bedbug harbourage or an entire room. Using the temperature-dependent rate of decrease in the abdomen size of the bedbug after a bloodmeal, we found that, in a highly infested room kept at a constant temperature of 26 degrees C, females fed every 2.5 days on average. Our method corrects for variations in body size across different populations and determines the shrinkage that occurs when individuals are preserved in ethanol. This method should, therefore, be widely applicable. It is cheap, rapid and, if coupled with information on the total number of bedbugs present in a room, allows for the estimation of the minimum number of times persons lodging in a room have been bitten by bedbugs. This method can also be used to calculate the feeding rate of other blood-sucking insects on their hosts. The sex ratio in the infestation was female-biased. Finally, our case study suggests that individual female bedbugs within a harbourage do not seem to feed at a regular rate, but tend to synchronize feeding patterns.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2915.2009.00847.x

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@article{Reinhardt2010EstimatingTF, title={Estimating the feeding rate of the bedbug Cimex lectularius in an infested room: an inexpensive method and a case study.}, author={Klaus Reinhardt and D . H . Isaac and Richard A Naylor}, journal={Medical and veterinary entomology}, year={2010}, volume={24 1}, pages={46-54} }