post script to my video “how long bed bugs live – some discrepancies”

In my video I outlined a chart in Usinger’s book (Monograph of Cimicidae)  that showed that bed bugs live more time or less time depending on the temperature.   I also suggested that my bugs did not live as long as they should given the relatively ideal temperatures and wondered why that might be.  As I continue this blog I want to be able to update my information if I think of anything that might be relevant and as such this post is to add to that knowledge.

The Bugs in my experiments are often found dead upside down in my experiment pan.  I noticed in general observations that the bugs would spend a lot of time attempting to escape the teflon pan, fall over backwards, and spend considerable amounts of time attempting to get back to their feet.  The teflon pan offered no traction to assist in the righting process which contributed to the amount of time they spent upside down.  I wonder if spending a lot of time upside down contributed to their early demise?  Also it could be that the bugs extended considerable amounts of energy in the righting process and in the later stages of their  life in the pan could not muster the energy to right themselves.  Perhaps this also contributed to their short life span.   And finally Usinger does mention that  relative humidity is generally not thought to be of a great influence in how long bed bugs live but that there are some studies that argue the opposite.  My experiment room is in a basement environment and so I would think there should be at least some level of humidity but it is a relatively dry environment.  I did not account for the humidity in these starvation exercises and perhaps that could also be a factor.  To make a long story short there are a lot of unanswered questions in my little video study.  On the other hand it is an interesting piece of information and this is how learning occurs.

August 11, 2012

I collected a very large number of bed bugs from a single home and saved them in a large plastic tobacco  container with a screw on lid.  I needed just a few bugs for a particular experiment so I dumped a few into the pan and left the majority in the tobacco container.  After about 4 weeks a large number of my bugs in the experiment pan were dead (no pesticides used) so I again poured a few bugs into the pan from my tobacco container.  And I did this again a few weeks later.  It appeared that the bugs died sooner in my experiment pan than my sealed tobacco container.  I don’t know why.  That is not to say that the bugs in the tobacco container did not die.  It is just that more died in the experiment pan.  After 60 days very few live bugs remained in the tobacco container.  I was forced to once again harvest a few bugs from the workplace  to keep my experiments going.

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Field observations of bed bug behaviour in starvation settings