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Bed Bugs Can Bypass Pitfalls of Inbreeding, Studies Say
Date:12/6/2011

're hungry, they will bite pets, but they much prefer humans," Schal said.

Bed bug mating -- known as "traumatic insemination" -- is "quite an amazing story," Schal said. Males pierce the body of a female and insert sperm into her bloodstream, where it seeks out a sperm storage organ. She can keep it there for weeks before using it to fertilize her eggs, which she'll lay at a rate of about one a day.

"It doesn't matter if they are brother and sister, or mother and son, they can mate and start a whole new population," he said.

In other research to be presented at the meeting, researchers said they're learning more about bed bugs' "alarm pheromones," which, when sensed by the bugs, cause them to run away. Presumably, alarm pheromones could be used to send bed bugs scurrying toward insecticides, researchers said.

Because the research was presented at a medical meeting, the conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has more on getting rid of bed bugs.

SOURCES: Coby Schal, Ph.D, professor, entomology, North Carolina State University; Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D, president, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH); Dec. 6, 2011, presentations, ASTMH annual meeting, Philadelphia


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