Bed bug feeding and defecation behaviors on a live host compared to an artificial membrane system

Monday, November 17, 2014: 10:36 AM
B115-116 (Oregon Convention Center)
Courtney Darrington , Entomology Department, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Susan C. Jones , Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
The bed bug, Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), is a significant public health problem, causing economic, physical, and mental distress.  Bed bugs have been reported to harbor more than 40 human pathogens, including hepatitis B virus and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  However, this insect’s potential for disease transmission remains poorly understood.  Little research has been done to examine bed bug vector competence, which is an organism’s ability to acquire, support, and transmit a pathogen.  The objective of this laboratory study was to characterize bed bug feeding and defecation behaviors as facilitative processes for disease transmission.  Initial work, which was done on an artificial feeding system, indicated that adult and fifth instar bed bugs defecated very quickly (5 seconds, median time) and within 0.5-0.9 inches of their feeding site.  On average, they defecated twice within the first 10 minutes of feeding cessation.  Our next step is to assess whether bed bug defecation behavior is similar on a live host (rat).