Mating and starvation modulate feeding and host-seeking responses in female bed bugs, Cimex lectularius

Ahmed M. Saveer, Zachary C. DeVries, Richard G. Santangelo, Coby Schal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reproductive fitness and survival are enhanced by adaptive behaviors that are modulated by internal physiological states and external social contexts. The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, is an obligate hematophagous ectoparasite that requires host blood for growth, development, and reproduction. We investigated how mating, starvation and social interactions affect host-seeking, blood feeding, oviposition, and survival of female bed bugs. The percentage of females that fed and the amount of blood they ingested were greater in mated females (90–100%) than in unmated females (48–60%). Mating state also modulated the female’s orientation towards human skin odor in an olfactometer; more mated (69%) than unmated (23%) females responded to human odors. The response rate of unmated females (60%) to skin odor increased with longer starvation period, while the opposite pattern was observed in mated females (20%). Although fecundity after a single blood meal was unaffected by long or short residence and interaction with males, females subjected to frequent copulation attempts had lower survivorship and lifespan than females housed with males for only 24 h. Taken together, these results indicate that by adaptively and coordinately expressing behaviors based on the internal physiological state, females maximize their survival and reproductive fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1915
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Blanton J. Whitmire Endowment at North Carolina State University, and grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Healthy Homes program (NCHHU0053-19), the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (2013-5-35 MBE), the US National Science Foundation (DEB-1754190) and the Department of the Army, U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Natick Contracting Division, Ft Detrick MD.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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