The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) is an obligate hematophagous ectoparasite that has significant impacts on human health and well-being. All life stages of bed bugs (except eggs) feed solely on blood, which is required to molt and reproduce. Bed bugs use multiple cues to locate their hosts, including heat, CO2, and body odors. Of these cues, detection of heat appears limited to a short distance of <3 cm. However, it remains unclear if bed bugs can detect radiant heat, what structure(s) are responsible for heat detection, and if heat detection via the antennae is required for feeding. In this study, bed bug response to radiant heat was evaluated using the two-choice T-maze assay with the heat source either in contact with the surface (i.e., conduction) or not in contact (i.e., radiation) in nonantennectomized bed bugs. Further, we systematically ablated the bed bug's antennal segments (distal tip, first segment, and all four segments) and assessed their responses to heat and feeding in a unique two-choice T-maze assay and individual feeding assays, respectively. Our two-choice assays with contact to or no contact with the surface indicated that bed bugs cannot detect radiant heat. Later, we found that the distal tip of the terminal antennal segment is responsible for orientation toward a heat source. However, >50% of the bed bugs fed even when the entire antenna was removed, suggesting redundancy in sensory cues that drive feeding. These results will be used to better understand the role heat plays in bed bug host attraction and design of traps.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Economic Entomology
|Published - Dec 1 2020
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- bed bug
- feeding behavior
- heat detection
- radiant heat
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science