Thickening of the integument as a mechanism of resistance to insecticides is a well recognised phenomenon in the insect world and, in recent times, has been found in insects exhibiting pyrethroid-resistance. Resistance to pyrethroid insecticides in the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L., is widespread and has been frequently inferred as a reason for the pest’s resurgence. Overexpression of cuticle depositing proteins has been demonstrated in pyrethroid-resistant bed bugs although, to date, no morphological analysis of the cuticle has been undertaken in order to confirm a phenotypic link. This paper describes examination of the cuticle thickness of a highly pyrethroid-resistant field strain collected in Sydney, Australia, in response to time-to-knockdown upon forced exposure to a pyrethroid insecticide. Mean cuticle thickness was positively correlated to time-to-knockdown, with significant differences observed between bugs knocked-down at 2 hours, 4 hours, and those still unaffected at 24 hours. Further analysis also demonstrated that the 24 hours survivors possessed a statistically significantly thicker cuticle when compared to a pyrethroid-susceptible strain of C. lectularius. This study demonstrates that cuticle thickening is present within a pyrethroid-resistant strain of C. lectularius and that, even within a stable resistant strain, cuticle thickness will vary according to time-to-knockdown upon exposure to an insecticide. This response should thus be considered in future studies on the cuticle of insecticide-resistant bed bugs and, potentially, other insects.
Behavioral bioassays were conducted to determine whether bed bug adults and nymphs prefer specific colored harborages. Two-choice and seven-choice behavioral color assays indicate that red (28.5%) and black (23.4%) harborages are optimal harborage choices for bed bugs. Yellow and green harborages appear to repel bed bugs. Harborage color preferences change according to gender, nutritional status, aggregation, and life stage. Female bed bugs prefer harborages with shorter wavelengths (lilac-14.5% and violet-11.5%) compared to males, whereas males prefer harborages with longer wavelengths (red-37.5% and black-32%) compared with females. The preference for orange and violet harborages is stronger when bed bugs are fed as opposed to when they are starved. Lone bed bugs (30%) prefer to be in black harborages while red harborages appear to be the optimum harborage color for bed bugs in more natural mixed aggregations (35.5%). Bed bug nymphs preferred different colored harborages at each stage of development, which is indicative of their developing eye structures and pigments. First instars showed no significant preference for any colored harborage soon after hatching. However, by the fifth instar, 27.5% of nymphs significantly preferred red and black harborages (which was a similar preference to adult bed bugs). The proportion of oviposited eggs was significantly greater under blue, red, and black harborages compared to other colored harborages tested. The use of visual cues such as specific colors offers great potential for improving bed bug monitoring tools by increasing trap captures.
Recent advances in genomic and post-genomic technologies have facilitated a genome-wide analysis of the insecticide resistance-associated genes in insects. Through bed bug, Cimex lectularius transcriptome analysis, we identified 14 molecular markers associated with pyrethroid resistance. Our studies revealed that most of the resistance-associated genes functioning in diverse mechanisms are expressed in the epidermal layer of the integument, which could prevent or slow down the toxin from reaching the target sites on nerve cells, where an additional layer of resistance (kdr) is possible. This strategy evolved in bed bugs is based on their unique morphological, physiological and behavioral characteristics and has not been reported in any other insect species. RNA interference-aided knockdown of resistance associated genes showed the relative contribution of each mechanism towards overall resistance development. Understanding the complexity of adaptive strategies employed by bed bugs will help in designing the most effective and sustainable bed bug control methods.
The global population of bed bugs (Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus, family Cimicidae) has undergone a significant resurgence since the late 1990s. This is likely due to an increase in global travel, trade, and the number of insecticide-resistant bed bugs. The global bed bug population is estimated to be increasing by 100-500 % annually. The worldwide spread of bed bugs is concerning, because they are a significant socioeconomic burden and a major concern to public health. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs are “a pest of significant health importance.” Additionally, 68 % of U.S. pest professionals reported that bed bugs are the most challenging pest to treat. Upwards of 45 disease pathogens have been reported in bed bugs. Recent studies report that bed bugs may be competent vectors for pathogens, such as Bartonella quintana and Trypanosoma cruzi. However, public health reports have thus far failed to produce evidence that major infectious disease outbreaks have been associated with bed bugs. Since many disease pathogens have previously been reported in bed bugs and the worldwide bed bug population is now drastically increasing, it stands to reason to wonder if bed bugs might transmit human pathogens. This review includes a literature search on recently published clinical and laboratory studies (1990-2016) investigating bed bugs as potential vectors of infectious disease, and reports the significant findings and limitations of the reviewed studies. To date, no published study has demonstrated a causal relationship between bed bugs and infectious disease transmission in humans. Also, we present and propose to expand on previous hypotheses as to why bed bugs do not transmit human pathogens. Bed bugs may contain “neutralizing factors” that attenuate pathogen virulence and, thereby, decrease the ability of bed bugs to transmit infectious disease.
Bed bugs (both Cimex hemipterus [F.] and Cimex lectularius L.) worldwide are highly resistant to the pyrethroids. An important resistance mechanism known as ‘knockdown resistance’ (kdr) is caused by genetic point mutations on the voltage-gated sodium channel (VGSC) gene. Previous studies have identified two point mutations (V419L and L925I) on the VGSC gene in C. lectularius that are responsible for kdr-type resistance. However, the kdr mutations in C. hemipterus have not been investigated.
Pyrethroid resistance in the Common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L. has been reported worldwide. An important resistant mechanism is via knockdown resistance (kdr) mutations, notably V419L and L925I. Information regarding this kdr-type resistant mechanism is unknown in Australia. This study aims to examine the status of kdr mutations in Australian C. lectularius strains.
The rapid increase of bed bug populations resistant to pyrethroids demands the development of novel control tactics. Products combining pyrethroids and neonicotinoids have become very popular for bed bug control in the United States, but there are concerns about evolution of resistance to these compounds. Laboratory assays were used to measure the toxicity of topical applications of four neonicotinoids to a susceptible population and three pyrethroid-resistant populations. Activity of esterases, glutathione S-transferases, and cytochrome P450s of all strains was also evaluated. High levels of resistance to four neonicotinoids, acetamiprid, imidacloprid, dinotefuran, and thiamethoxam, relative to the susceptible Fort Dix population, were detected in populations collected from human dwellings in Cincinnati and Michigan. Because activity of detoxifying enzymes was increased in these two populations, our results suggest that these enzymes have some involvement in neonicotinoid resistance, but other resistance mechanisms might be involved as well. Detection of high levels of resistance to neonicotinoids further limits the options for chemical control of bed bugs.
Extracts of the exuviae (cast skins) of nymphal bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) were analyzed for volatile compounds that might contribute to arrestment of adult bed bugs. Four volatile aldehydes, (E)-2-hexenal, 4-oxo-(E)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-octenal, and 4-oxo-(E)-2-octenal were consistently detected in the headspace of freshly shed exuviae regardless of the developmental stages from which the exuviae were obtained. Quantification of the aldehydes in the solvent extracts of homogenized fresh, 45- or 99-d aged 5th instar exuviae indicated that the aldehydes are present in the exuviae and dissipate over time, through evaporation or degradation. Microscopic observation of the fifth instar exuviae indicated that the dorsal abdominal glands on the exuviae maintained their pocket-like structures with gland reservoirs, within which the aldehydes might be retained. Two-choice olfactometer studies with the volatiles from exuviae or a synthetic blend mimicking the volatiles indicated that adult bed bugs tend to settle close to sources of the aldehydes. Our results imply that the presence and accumulation of bed bug exuviae and the aldehydes volatilizing from the exuviae might mediate bed bugs' interaction with their microhabitats.
Insecticide resistance is a major impediment for effective control of Cimex lectularius L. Previous resistance detection studies with bed bugs have focused on certain pyrethroid, neonicotinoid, organochlorine, organophosphate, and carbamate insecticides. Within the pyrethroid class, resistance studies have mostly been limited to deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, and alpha- and beta-cyfluthrin. The goal of this study was to develop diagnostic concentration bioassays for assessing bed bug susceptibility levels to chlorfenapyr- and bifenthrin-containing products. First, glass vial and filter paper bioassay methods were compared for their utility in susceptibility monitoring. Statistical comparison of toxicity data between bioassays indicated that the vial assay was less confounded by assay susbtrate effects, required less insecticide, and was faster, especially for chlorfenapyr. Next, using vial diagnostic concentrations (LC99) for each insecticide, 10 laboratory-adapted field strains and the Harlan lab-susceptible strain were screened for susceptibility to chlorfenapyr and bifenthrin. The results of this study reveal recent bed bug susceptibility levels to certain chlorfenapyr- and bifenthrin-containing products. Reduced susceptibility was detected in three and five field strains to chlorfenapyr and bifenthrin, respectively. Detection of reduced susceptibility suggests that certain strains may be segregating toward greater chlorfenapyr and bifenthrin resistance. These results merit continuous resistance monitoring efforts to detect chlorfenapyr and bifenthrin susceptibility shifts. Additionally, to reduce insecticide selection pressures and delay resistance development, adoption of integrated bed bug control strategies that combine chemical and nonchemical methods is recommended.
Understanding movement and dispersal of the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) under field conditions is important in the control of infestations and for managing the spread of bed bugs to new locations. We investigated bed bug movement within and between apartments using mark-release-recapture (m-r-r) technique combined with apartment-wide monitoring using pitfall-style interceptors. Bed bugs were collected, marked, and released in six apartments. The distribution of marked and unmarked bed bugs in these apartments and their 24 neighboring units were monitored over 32 days. Extensive movement of marked bed bugs within and between apartments occurred regardless of the number of bed bugs released or presence/absence of a host. Comparison of marked and unmarked bed bug distributions confirms that the extensive bed bug activity observed was not an artifact of the m-r-r technique used. Marked bed bugs were recovered in apartments neighboring five of six m-r-r apartments. Their dispersal rates at 14 or 15 d were 0.0-5.0%. The estimated number of bed bugs per apartment in the six m-r-r apartments was 2,433-14,291 at 4-7 d after release. Longevity of bed bugs in the absence of a host was recorded in a vacant apartment. Marked large nymphs (3rd- 5th instar), adult females, and adult males continued to be recovered up to 57, 113, and 134 d after host absence, respectively. Among the naturally existing unmarked bed bugs, unfed small nymphs (1st- 2nd instar) were recovered up to 134 d; large nymphs and adults were still found at 155 d when the study ended. Our findings provide important insight into the behavioral ecology of bed bugs in infested apartments and have significant implications in regards to eradication programs and managing the spread of bed bugs within multi-occupancy dwellings.