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Theoretical Question for the Bed Bug Experts

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  1. mindkites

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Thu Jun 23 2011 9:47:00
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    This question has been bugging me (no pun intended).

    Let's say I brought bed bugs home from a hotel in a duffel bag that I had with me. I come home, unpack the bag and throw everything in the washer and toss the bag back in the closet upstairs in the room where I normally keep it. There's a bed in this room but no one sleeps in it. Ever. I use the room to keep my clothes in and to get dressed in the morning. That's it. All in all I spend about 5 minutes tops in that room each day.

    Now assuming that there was a bug or bugs in that duffel bag. Where would they go from there. And more importantly my question is, would they return to that closet or would they find a food source and then stick close by it?

    My daughter's room is down and across the hall (easily 20 linear feet from the closet in that other room) and she's the only one that sleeps on that floor. Would they be able to sense her heat and breathing from that far away? Would they migrate to her room, find her and then stick close to that food source. I mean they wouldn't have any reason to migrate to any other room on that floor would they? There's one other room on that floor and no sleeps in it either.

    Just trying to get a better understanding of their behavior...

  2. jrbtnyc

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Thu Jun 23 2011 11:48:39
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    Not an expert myself, but I think it would indeed be possible for the bed bug to find its way from that closet down the hall to your daughter.

    As the bug gets hungry, and if it exits the duffel bag and gets to the floor in the closet and in the unoccupied bedroom, it will start to move around and search for indications of food in the vicinity. If its current location is too far from your daughter to sense her CO2 and aromas and pheromones as of yet, the bug will keep moving around in different directions in the unoccupied area. Likely at some point – within three hours? – within six days? – who knows – it may happen to go out in the hallway and there it might be able to pick up the "trail" to your daughter.

    Remember, that bug is hungry and that bug has nothing else to do all day, all week, all month, but search for food. The process of finding food is very uncertain and the timing is indefinite but the bug will be very persistent and it has weeks or months before it will starve to death.

    When it's not yet very hungry the bug might spend a majority of its time hiding in a crevice or wherever, being most likely to come out during the latter nighttime hours, but as it gets hungrier it might start spending more of its time out and about actively searching, even during the daytime.

    Also, if you see bed bugs in motion you realize they can actually get around fairly well. I would rate a bb's mobility as being about one-half that of a cockroach.

    Also, insects in general have extremely strong senses of smell from what I gather, certainly including bed bugs. Maybe stronger than a bloodhound's sense of smell in fact.

    So, after random searching and the bug happens to go out into the hallway and picks up the "trail", the bug might be able to travel down the hallway within, what, twelve hours? one hour? four hours? And is now in your daughter's room.

    Yeah it sure is creepy. Brrr.

    It's not a *certainty*, I think, that the bug will find its way to your daughter but I believe it's a definite *possibility*, maybe at least 50/50 I would think because that's their specialty, it's how bed bugs survive, by finding food that's not conveniently located near them when they have to start their search.

    If any experts reading this think my assessment is incorrect in whatever respects, please post.

  3. mindkites

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Thu Jun 23 2011 16:46:03
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    Thanks for your reply. What you said is pretty much exactly what I was thinking. It will search and search until it finds food.

    Once it finds that food, it has no reason to search any further right? It will likely stick close to the food source that it found. Like you said, with a "full belly" it will likely settle in somewhere until the next feeding. So, it's not 100% likely to go on wandering about the rest of the upstairs and into the other bedrooms where there is no food source. I guess what I'm getting at is whether I should be as concerned with a whole house infestation, or primarily in the rooms where we sleep.

    Also, IF the bug was an impregnated female would it have been laying eggs all along the way or would it wait until it found a settling place?

    It's been 7 weeks since I returned from the trip where I believe the bugs came from. I was bitten about 6 times over the course of 4 or so weeks. Haven't been bitten in about two weeks. Found two exoskeletons, and a minimal number of fecal spots two weeks ago and one bug last Saturday (while doing an inspection with my PCO). Haven't been able to find anything since. I'm baffled that in 7 weeks I don't have a lot more evidence or activity.

  4. jrbtnyc

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Thu Jun 23 2011 16:52:50
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    mindkites - 3 minutes ago  » 
    ...
    Also, IF the bug was an impregnated female would it have been laying eggs all along the way or would it wait until it found a settling place?
    ...

    Even if it's an inseminated female, if it's very, very hungry it won't lay eggs, actually can't lay eggs, or at least not very many depending on how hungry it really is i.e. how much energy it has available to devote to the task which requires a lot.

    So yes, if it then finds a food source it's likely to go immediately into production, and I would presume likely to stick around the food source. So it probably wasn't laying very many eggs, if any, on its way from that closet to your daughter's room, but then starts layin' 'em a-plenty there.

    What I don't actually know and haven't read and an entomologist/expert would need to answer is, does she need a male's attention more times before she can lay more eggs? I.e. once inseminated can she lay several blood meals' worth of eggs or does she need to get mated again for each blood meal's worth?


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