Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Bedbug inbreeding key to increased infestations

December 8, 2011

WASHINGTON — New research on the bedbug''s ability to withstand the genetic bottleneck of inbreeding provides new clues to explain the rapidly growing problem of bedbugs across the U.S. and globally, according to a press release.

Scientists at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) annual meeting offered new insights into infestations in apartment buildings and homes; a novel approach for preventing insecticide resistance; and new information about chemical compounds involved in attracting and repelling bedbugs, the release stated.

According to the release, one of the newly discovered factors that appears to be contributing to the bedbugs'' effective infestation is their ability to establish new infestations through inbreeding.

Coby Schal, PhD, and Ed Vargo, PhD, entomologists at North Carolina State University (NCSU), and colleagues carried out two studies now under peer-review examining the genetics of bedbugs from three multi-story apartment buildings in North Carolina and New Jersey and determined that there were high levels of relatedness within each apartment and very low genetic diversity within each building, indicating that infestations start from just one or two introductions of the insect, the release noted.

"Inbreeding gives bedbugs an advantage in being able to colonize," said Schal.

"A single female that has been mated is able to colonize and start a new infestation. Her progeny and brothers and sisters can then mate with each other, exponentially expanding the population. With many organisms, extensive inbreeding would cause serious mutations that would eventually bring about an end to the population," Schal added.

Click here to read the complete release.