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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Title: Undesirable dispersal of eggs and early-stage nymphs of the bed bug Hemiptera: cimicidae) by static electricity and air currents

item Feldlaufer, Mark
item Loudon, C.

Submitted to: Journal of Entomological Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/2/2011
Publication Date: 4/1/2011
Citation: Feldlaufer, M.F., Loudon, C. 2011. Undesirable dispersal of eggs and early-stage nymphs of the bed bug Hemiptera: cimicidae) by static electricity and air currents. Journal of Entomological Science. 46(2):1-2.

Interpretive Summary: Bed bugs are blood-sucking insects that are experiencing a comeback and are being found in residences, hotels, dormitories, movies theaters and places of work. Scientists investigating new ways to control bed bugs rear large numbers of these bugs in the laboratory and need to prevent individual bed bugs from accidentally escaping into the laboratory and beyond. While bed bugs cannot fly, we have shown that bed bug eggs, and the smaller, immature stages can move through the air presumably in response to static charge. This information will be useful to scientists that raise bed bugs as part of their research program, by taking precautions to limit the chance of bed bugs escaping into the surrounding environment.

Technical Abstract: Movement of whole live insects or other small arthropods attributed to static electricity has been reported only rarely. While viewing bed bugs in plastic or glass Petri dishes using a dissecting microscope, individual eggs and early stage nymphs were occasionally observed to move suddenly and rapidly through the air over short distances, presumably in response to static charges. This observation was also made when removing exuviae from colony jars during routine colony maintenance. Early stage nymphs, particularly those associated with or otherwise contained in larger exuviae could be transported over a distance of several centimeters. The need for working behind an enclosure to prevent the unwanted spread of bed bugs in a laboratory environment is discussed as well as the likelihood of bed bug dissemination in a field setting.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
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