Life History

attracting bed bugs to a host. A temperature differential of only 1 to 2°C is sufficient to induce probing (Lehane 1991).

When the bug has located a host, it approaches with its antennae outstretched and its beak directed downward at a 90° angle. It grabs the host with the tarsal claws of the front legs. After contact is made, the antennae are pulled backwards, and the entire bug makes rocking, pushing movements as the vertically directed stylets are embedded in the skin. As the stylets penetrate the skin, the labium becomes more and more bent at the skin surface. The mandibles, which have retrorse teeth at their tips, move in and out of the skin in alternating fashion, producing a passage for the maxillae. The bundle of feeding stylets probes actively within the skin until a blood vessel of suitable size is penetrated. Only the maxillae, and possibly only the right maxilla, actually enter the lumen of the vessel. The salivary secretion contains an anticoagulin which prevents the blood from clotting. After engorging, the bug withdraws its stylets; sometimes this requires considerable effort owing to the teeth on the mandibles. Once the stylets are again encased in the straightened labial sheath, the beak is folded back under the head. The bugs are quick to retreat when disturbed at the beginning or end of feeding; however, while the stylets are fully embedded in the skin, the bug is unable to withdraw its mouthparts even if handled or rotated.

The two species of Cimex most commonly associated with humans have been dispersed over wide areas of the globe, with C. lectularius most often being found in temperate regions and C. hemipterus in the tropics. These species are carried concealed in luggage, furniture, and all manner of packing materials. They have been transported on land vehicles, ships, and planes.

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