Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment



First Advisor

Dr. Kenneth F. Haynes


Following a decades-long hiatus in many nations, populations of bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) have rebounded and are thriving on a global scale posing substantial challenges for pest management professionals. Insecticide resistance to both pyrethroid and neonicotinoid compounds has been identified in many populations, leading to renewed interest in alternative control methods for management of this pest. The objectives of my dissertation research were to study various, typically cryptic, bed bug behaviors in order to improve both conventional and alternative management strategies. Novel behavioral interactions among mother and offspring were characterized. Additionally, changes in behavior and physiology after treatment with a commercial insecticide were explored. In the laboratory, the presence of female bed bugs improved foraging efficacy of first instar nymphs. There is evidence that this interaction is mediated by low-volatility pheromones deposited in the feces by adult females following feeding. This discovery may lead to an improvement in trapping methods for juvenile bed bugs. A novel behavior, egg-marking, by females was characterized. After laying an egg, females rapidly move the abdomen side to side above their egg for 8-41 seconds. Although the function of this behavior is yet to be characterized, some evidence suggests a potential form of maternal care. Finally, laboratory assays indicate numerous detrimental effects of sublethal exposure to the commercial insecticide, Temprid® SC, which could impact management practices in the field. Sublethal exposure to Temprid® SC led to decreases in egg viability, feeding efficacy, locomotion, and mating success. Other behavioral changes were more variable, such as the first and median day of egg laying. Aggregation behavior and eclosion of fifth instars, however, were not impacted by treatment. In this dissertation, I show that i) females benefit offspring by enhancing feeding efficacy of first instars, and ii) sublethal impacts of Temprid® SC affect bed bug behavior and physiology in ways that could impact current management strategies. These results demonstrate that alternative management strategies disrupting mother-offspring interactions are possible for bed bug control. Bed bug behavior, especially in response to insecticide treatment, should also be thoroughly evaluated to enhance conventional control practices for C. lectularius in the field.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)