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Title: Sexual dimorphism of bed bug (Cimex lectularis) attraction and aggregation responses to cuticular extracts from nymph exuviae

item Domingue, Michael
item Kramer, Matthew
item Feldlaufer, Mark

Submitted to: Physiological Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/2010
Publication Date: 5/1/2010
Citation: Domingue, M.J., Kramer, M.H., Feldlaufer, M.F. 2010. Sexual dimorphism of bed bug (Cimex lectularis) attraction and aggregation responses to cuticular extracts from nymph exuviae. Physiological Entomology. 35(3):203-213.

Interpretive Summary: The resurgence of bed bugs has led to the need of developing better forms of control. Several new control methods designed to attract and trap bed bugs or kill them incorporate chemicals produced by bed bugs. We have shown that extracts of bed bug skins are specifically attractive to adult male bed bugs, while female bed bugs exhibit a different behavior. This information will be useful to other scientists involved in understanding bed bug behavior with the goal of developing new and safer forms of bed bug control, based upon chemicals that attract bed bugs.

Technical Abstract: A large variety of releaser pheromones are used by insects to attract or disperse conspecifics, while group cohesion is often influenced by primer pheromones that induce behavioral or physiological changes. Differentiating the roles of such pheromones in insect taxa displaying intermediate levels of sociality has not been well explored. Here we examine the attraction and movement patterns of groups of bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L., known to be found in aggregations within human dwellings. Groups of adult males showed significant attraction to extracts derived from fifth-instar nymphal exuviae, while groups of adult females, nymphs, or mixed stages do not. This attraction was shown to occur at a range of doses. Groups of adult males or females did not to prefer fifth instar exuvia extracts derived from one sex versus the other. Fourth instar exuvial extracts were not attractive to males. An index describing non-random movement within the groups of bugs was calculated for each experiment. Adult males had low values for this index. Adult females, nymph cohorts, and mixed age groups all had higher values for this index that increased over time, indicating aggregation. Furthermore females exhibited clear dose-dependent variation in this non-random movement index. Therefore males have a directionally-oriented attraction to this extract, while female response is characterized by stimulation of aggregation behavior at non-specific locations in the arena.