Laboratory Rearing of Bed Bugs


Rahim, A. H., A. H. Ab Majid, and A. H. Ahmad2015. Laboratory rearing of Cimex hemipterus F. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) feeding on different types of human blood compositions by using modified artificial feeding system. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease. 5: 930–934. doi: 10.1016/S2222-1808(15)60960-4

“To investigate the effects of three types of human blood compositions: whole blood, red blood cells and red blood cells mixed with plasma, and determine the suitable blood source that can be used to feed the bed bugs [Cimex hemipterus (C. hemipterus)], in comparison to the direct feeding method. C. hemipterus were fed with the three types of blood compositions by using an artificial feeding system. Then the number of live and dead individuals as well as the number of adults produced was counted. Red blood cells caused 72.7% death of C. hemipterus, followed by red blood cells mixed with plasma (52.0%) and whole blood (48.7%). There were significant differences in the number of live individuals after seven weeks of feeding. However, there were no significant differences between the number of live individuals fed on whole blood, red blood cells and red blood cells mixed with plasma after seven weeks. The components in the blood sources may be the key to their different effects on the growth dynamics of C. hemipterus.”


Chin-Heady, E., J. J. DeMark, S. Nolting, G. Bennett, K. Saltzmann, and R. L. Hamm. 2013. A quantitative analysis of a modified feeding method for rearing Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) in the laboratory. Pest Management Science. 69: 1115–1120. doi: 10.1002/ps.3482

A new artificial feeding method for bed bugs was compared to a commonly used method which employs custom-made glassware and a circulating water bath to warm the blood. The new petri dish method resulted in similar bed bug population growth rates, but was less expensive, quicker, and allowed for multiple feedings and reduced the potential for bed bug death due to flooding with water or blood.

Romero, A., and S. Coby. 2013. Blood constituents as phagostimulants for the bed bug, Cimex lectularius L. Journal of Experimental Biology. doi: 10.1242/jeb.096727

“Many hematophagous arthropods are stimulated by blood constituents to initiate feeding. We used a membrane-based feeding system to identify chemicals that stimulate acceptance and engorgement responses in various life stages of bed bugs. Water was fortified with a variety of compounds (e.g. salts, amino acids, vitamins, nucleotides, cholesterol and fatty acids) in these bioassays. Adenosine triphosphate was the most effective phagostimulant in adults and nymphs, resulting in >70% of bed bugs fully engorging. Addition of NaCl to low ATP solutions that alone elicited <50% engorgement significantly enhanced feeding responses of bed bugs. A comparison of feeding responses with solutions of various adenine nucleotides showed that ATP was more stimulatory than ADP, which was more effective than AMP. Feeding assays with physiological levels of other blood constituents such as D-glucose, albumin, globulin, cholesterol and mixtures of vitamins and amino acids did not stimulate engorgement, suggesting that adenine nucleotides are the most important feeding stimulants in bed bugs. Identification of phagostimulants for bed bugs will contribute toward the development of artificial diets for rearing purposes as well as for the development of alternative methods to eliminate bed bug infestations.”


Montes, C., C. Cuadrillero, and D. Vilella2002. Maintenance of a laboratory colony of Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) using an artificial feeding technique. Journal of Medical Entomology. 39: 675–679. doi: 10.1603/0022-2585-39.4.675

“The in vitro maintenance technique described in this article has been used successfully to rear Cimex lectularius (L.) by feeding for >2 yr all nymphal stages and adults through parafilm “M” sealing film on different types of blood. Using this feeding technique, the subsequent egg production of female bed bugs was remarkably high. The blood was maintained at 37 ºC (98.6 ºF) to enhance the attachment of the bugs. The effect of anticoagulation methods for the blood meal was investigated, and heparinized blood was found the most suitable for feeding bugs. All stages of the bugs fed weekly on blood in the artificial feeding system remained attached for up to 0.5-1.0 h, until completion of their blood meals, and all reached engorged weights. More than 90% of the bugs fed artificially on whole blood, and they molted or laid eggs successfully.”


De Meillon, B., and L. Golberg. 1946. Preliminary studies on the nutritional requirements of the bedbug (Cimex lectularius L.) and the tick Ornithodorus moubata Murray. Journal of Experimental Biology. 24: 41–61.

Various blood diets affected the development of bed bugs and ticks. They did not develop as well on modified diets or on diets where the host was injected with medicinal drugs or deprived of vitamins such as thiamin.