Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type






First Advisor

Dr. Kenneth F. Haynes


The near absence of bed bugs from human dwellings for fifty or more years has left us with limited knowledge of its biology and few answers to eliminate populations. I explored a diverse set of objectives to answer key questions concerning bed bug biology and control. Major objectives were studies of circadian rhythmicity, pyrethroid resistance, sublethal effects of insecticides, synergism of pyrethroids, and evaluation of a pyrrole insecticides, chlorfenapyr. Additional studies included persistence of Borrelia in bed bugs after ingestion, and aggregation factors from feces.

In the absence of host stimuli, insects were much more active in the dark than in the light. Nocturnal activity was periodical under continuous light conditions, which indicates that locomotion is endogenously generated by a circadian clock. Circadian rhythm was entrained to reverse dark-light regimes. Short–term starved adults moved more frequently than long-starved adults. These results suggest that starved bugs reduce locomotor activity as a strategy to conserve metabolic reserves.

Pyrethroid resistance in C. lectularius was documented for the first time. Extremely high levels of resistance to deltamethrin and λ-cyhalothrin, was detected in populations collected in Kentucky and Ohio. The resistance ratios reported are among the highest documented in any arthropod. Evaluations of more than 20 populations from across the United States indicate that resistance to pyrethroid insecticides is widespread.

Bed bugs avoided resting on surfaces treated with deltamethrin but not with chlorfenapyr. Video recordings of bed bugs showed that insects increased their activity when they contacted sublethal doses of deltamethrin. However, harborages treated with a deltamethrin remained attractive. A nearby heat source overcame avoidance to deltamethrin.

The P450 inhibitor piperonyl butoxide (PBO) enhanced toxicity of deltamethrin to resistant bed bugs. However, the residual resistance after PBO treatment indicated that other resistance mechanisms are involved. The effectiveness of combining PBO with pyrethroids varied among populations, which indicates that this synergist is not a comprehensive solution to pyrethroid resistance. Chlorfenapyr was effective against pyrethroid resistant strains. While it does not cause quick knockdown, long residual activity and no avoidance behavior to dry residues appears to make this insecticide a useful tool for bed bug control.

Included in

Entomology Commons



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