bed bug behaviour on clothing


I have been doing in situ experiments with different types of bed bug traps in a local severely infested rooming house. My experimentation results in increased knowledge for me while the residents receive fewer bites – a good trade. I met one of the residents of this rooming house by happenstance in the back alley while he was playing with his remote control car in the parking lot. As I approached him he stood up from his seated position and we greeted each other. It was then that I noticed something moving on his clothing (the individual was wearing shorts and no shirt). I looked closer and saw two bed bugs. I mentioned that fact to the individual and he promptly attempted to kill the bugs by squishing them. The first squished nicely but the second bug went into flight mode and ran surprisingly quickly behind his belt line. The belt was searched but the bug was not found. (similar to my other blogs about collecting bed bugs from box springs – the bugs go into flight mode and attempt to burrow and hide under the fibres when prodded.) I questioned the individual about where his clothing came from and it was determined they had been on the floor beside his bed the night before.

I made three interesting observations:


Firstly the bed bugs remained on the clothing for a prolonged period of time. Despite the individual sitting on a concrete stoop for a considerable period of time the bugs did not attempt to leave as evidenced by their remaining on the clothing. I am sure there were more than two bugs on this man but these two bugs did not take the opportunity to get off the host despite being offered a substantial opportunity.


Secondly the bugs went into flight mode and managed to hide in the clothing when an effort was made to kill them. A frantic effort to squish the bug failed to remove/kill the bug.


Thirdly the bugs came from clothing that had been left on the floor beside his bed. Also I did not notice any bugs on this individual’s skin suggesting the bugs wanted to stay on the clothing. I suspect the cloth offered better substrate on which to cling during the unwanted ride through the neighborhood.


Keep in mind this is only a single observation. But you have to pay attention if you want to understand bed bug behaviour. And given this is a rather unique observational setting I am paying attention.

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