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Bedbug vision?: Another question for the experts.

(11 posts)
  1. ITortureBugs4Revenge

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Feb 4 2014 4:41:32
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    I have always wondered but have never seen any information on how sharp a bedbug's eyes are. Back when i was dealing with my infestation i was sitting on the couch watching TV on a bright sunny day with the curtains open when i noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye on one of the cushions and upon looking closer i saw the front end of an adult bb sticking out of the fold in the cushion where the zipper is located, so i immediately grabbed the spray bottle of alcohol which i kept on the end table for kill on sight applications and as soon as my hand holding the bottle was moving towards the target bug it quickly backed itself deeper into the fold when my hand was still over a foot away ! and i could swear it was paying close attention to every move i made both before and after it withdrew into the zipper crease. It appears to me that bedbugs have pretty well developed vision and it would be interesting to know if any of the experts here know anything about how well bedbugs can see.

    .....I am NOT an expert.....

    Any advice i give here is based solely on my own personal experiences in dealing with bedbugs & other household vermin.
  2. swift2cruz

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Feb 4 2014 9:24:37
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    great question! my situation is different, but last night i was going over my walls with my flashlight (as i do every night) and i saw a spot and as i stopped on it to see what it was it dropped on the floor! i found it right away (always ready for combat) but now i know they react to light! but how do they react to movement? how close do you have to be for them to see you?

  3. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Feb 4 2014 9:37:49
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    Hi,

    Short of finding a way to communicate with bedbugs and understand their perception of the the word we must rely upon a form of experimentation called "elecrto physiology" whereby you dissect the target material (in this case bedbug eyes) and wire them up to a meter that registers electrical signals.

    Once you have you eye and electrode combination set up you can apply varying stimuli to measure any signals produced. Now although this is "good science" it is not "high tech science" by modern standards and is as such not as precise.

    The last data I recall reading indicated a 3m or about 10 foot range to make out vision in a coloured to near infra red spectrum although we have no way of knowing what form and resolution the "sight" is. However the more interesting aspect I read is that when closer to a food source the targeting sense is skewed to the infra red or heat which is why they target exposed skin which is naturally "hotter" (or at least appears hotter) than covered skin.

    So yes its feasible for a bedbug to sense you moving towards it, whether that sensing is in the form of actual sight or detecting your body heat we may not know for years.

    It may also be that the response to the presence of a warm body is more survival driven than conscious thought that you may have a bottle of contact killer, i.e.

    warm body while hungry = food and thus investigate

    warm body while full = potential threat so retract from it

    Hope that helps.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    I am happy to answer questions in public but will not reply to message sent directly or via my company / social media. I am here to help everyone and not just one case at a time.

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bed bug infestations. I also have a professional relationship with PackTite in that they distribute my product under their own branding. I do not however receive any financial remuneration for any comments I make about pro
  4. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Feb 4 2014 20:06:24
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    Hmmm . . .

    Insect physiologists and others have conducted studies to determine the extent and acuity of insect senses.

    Insects such as bed bugs have compound eyes which are multifaceted. Their vision has been determined to be a mosaic with some degree of overlap due to the many facets present. Some insects also have simple eyes as well. These ocelli are thought to detect varying degrees of light as well as movement.

    Overall, the generally accepted school of thought is that many insects may be adept at detecting visual movement better than sharp images. However, and this also seems logical, insect vision acuity varies with "the world" the insect "operates in". For example, because a fly, bee or hornet live in a larger world, their distance vision acuity would be superior to that of a bed bug which "operates" in close quarters.

    It would be foolish but you might try this to test insect vision acuity and movement detection:

    a) Find a large hornet's nest.
    b) With a partner present either hit it with a long stick or throw a decent sized rock at it but only do one of these !
    c) Now, one of you run while the other stands perfectly still.
    d) Let us know which of you gets stung how many times.

    Based upon this example the guy that's running/moving will attract more nest defenders than the guy that's not.

    However, variable factors must also be considered. Color of clothing, being silhouetted against a bright sky, wind direction and other such factors may affect results.

    Now, lets consider the bed bug. These critters home in on potential hosts via their ability to detect heat and exhaled CO2. There are some other contributing attractants but thus far these compounds are proving to be minor factors.

    We might conduct a controlled study as follows.

    1) Place a few bed bugs say 15 to 20 feet from two potential hosts.
    2) Have host A in a normal setting such that 98.6 and regular breathing may be available to the bed bugs.
    3) Have host B present such that no exhaled CO2 nor thermal difference was detectable to the bed bugs. host B must also remain still.
    4) Release the bed bugs to see which potential host draws them.
    5) Even though host B is clearly within sight line of the bed bugs, at 15 to 20 feet from these bugs it is unlikely that they will see this person given these parameters.

    As mentioned previously, insects can detect movement within their range of vision. This is likely what you observed when attempting to "spray" that bed bug. Additionally, movement "across" their plane of vision is better detected than movement directly toward them as depth perception may be an issue there.

    Additionally, we all MUST recognize that the insect's world and senses are MUCH different than we humans ! These senses work in concert with each other for the insect's overall benefit in detecting and avoiding danger. Insects are adept at detecting air movements and scents at ultra low levels.

    And, while this seems like a simple question, it's complex because these senses and the insect's many stimuli receptors are difficult for most of us to understand and envision.

    For example, the cockroach has sensory organs called cerci which protrude from the distal abdomen. These cerci are hair covered sensory organs which detect air pressure and movement. What's more is that the nerves emanating from the cerci are "connected" directly to the cockroach's legs. As such, when the cerci detect air movement and/or air pressure, as in your shoe traveling downward to step on a roach, the legs "automatically" start running. It is an ultimate survival machine the cockroach !

    Hope this helps ! paul b.

  5. ITortureBugs4Revenge

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Feb 4 2014 20:30:08
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    Thanks Paul and David, that was very interesting info on how bedbugs and other insects likely see "their world" in comparison to how we see ours. The infra red vision that bedbugs possibly possess is really interesting and makes a lot of sense for a creature that feeds only on warm blooded animals often during extremely low light conditions.

  6. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Feb 4 2014 20:31:14
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    Interesting discussion. I've always heard to use the flashlights with red vs. white light, but they may sense the movement. Again, thank you for your time!

    They
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    = TAOT
  7. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Feb 4 2014 22:11:28
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    Dear taot,

    In my younger pro days we'd go out at night to destroy large hornet, yellow jacket and other such nests.

    While primarily we were working in the dark, we did use a flashlight for obvious reasons.

    Under such circumstances, those of us who were experienced and knowledgeable about insects might tell our work partners something like: "OK, I'll spray the nest, and you stand over there with the flashlight so I can see what I'm spraying. Got it? OK, good !"

    Now, who might tell their work partner such a thing ?

    Who might use his entomological training to his own advantage under such circumstances.

    Who could it be ?

    I wonder who, I just don't know . . .

    Could it be . . .

    S A T A N ? (SNL Church Lady reference there)

    While we were taught that a red lens reportedly prevents the insects from being able to see the light at all, I can tell you that you'd never see me holding that red light either ! ! !

    pjb

  8. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Feb 5 2014 21:12:40
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    OK, that bed bugs can actually "see" IR light is a tad misleading. Insects have many different ways of detecting and responding to external stimuli than humans do so, it may be tough for folks to understand "their world" very well.

    E. O. Wilson of Harvard has done some remarkable studies on how insects navigate in their world. Visual examples of this may be seen in the Ants documentary from The Discovery Channel featuring Dr. Wilson.

    Think about this; a female gypsy moth is about 0.75 of an inch long as is the male. These two tiny critters live in a really big world yet the two must "get together" in order to perpetuate the species, right? So, how does a tiny animal call out to her potential mate who may be from several feet to miles away ??? They use scent. The females emit small amounts of attractant pheromones which males can detect from surprisingly long distances !

    Now, back to IR: Infrared means "beyond red". It is part of the non-visible light spectrum. IR light emits heat and bed bugs can detect heat. As such, it is not that they can "see" the IR light as much as they can detect the heat.

    And, when we see through "IR cameras" we are actually "looking through" a thermal imaging device. What happens is that the IR scope is actually "a thermometer" that detects slight differences in temperatures at remarkable distances. The electronics then convert these temperature differences into an image that we can see.

    For those interested, go to my website and see my IR video of rats. You will note that the IR makes the rats "glow in the dark" in that video.

    Hope this helps, gotta go ! paul b.

  9. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Feb 5 2014 21:16:49
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    Here's the link, I think, to the IR Rat video:

    http://www.pest-consultant.com/videos.html

  10. ITortureBugs4Revenge

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Thu Feb 6 2014 3:51:36
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    I always thought it would be similar to how the creature in the movie "Predator" saw the world, but as usual i let my imagination get the better of me sometimes. The way flies see the world with their huge compound eyes is really something, but as we know the eyes of bedbugs are really tiny, so it is doubtful that vision plays a significant role in their lives, aside from detecting movement which to them could indicate either an approaching threat or a possible meal. Pheromones and the possibility they can "sniff out" their food source probably play a much bigger role than vision in the case of bedbugs.

  11. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Thu Feb 6 2014 8:01:53
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    Dear torture,

    It may be more accurate to think of them as being extremely near sighted combined with the having a pretty good nose too.

    In any case, having thousands and thousands of years to perfect their skills they are pretty darn good at what they do and, as we all know, "bed bugs do what bed bugs do".

    Have a great day ! paul b.


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