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Life Span of BBs: Anecdote or Research?

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  1. NotSoSnug

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sat Nov 24 2007 11:17:30
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    I'm curious about the life span of bedbugz. I see a lot of anecdotal comments from BBers and PCOs about it, and I've read one Dr. Charles Campbell treatise from ~1910 but truly I haven't seen any recent research to confirm these comments. Dr. Michael Potter, from University of Kentucky, has done some non-rigorous testing for heat/cold destruction of bedbugz I've read as well, but nothing I've seen about lifespan.

    Campbell mentions this:

    "The ability of these insects to live for a very long time without food of any kind is remarkable. Careful observers have stated that, of their own personal knowledge, houses which have been empty for eighteen months at a time, when again inhabited by people have been found to be so full of these insects as to be un tenantable. I have made experiments which convince me of the truth of this assertion--although the experiments did not run for such a great length of time. I once put a bedstead containing many of these insects into a room by itself, and placed each one of its legs in a can partially filled with kerosene, so as to prevent their escape. After keeping the bedstead locked up in the room for four months, the insects were found in apparently the same condition as they were before the experiment was started."

    http://www.whale.to/a/campbell.html

    The eighteen month limit seems to be quoted a lot, without reference to Campbell and without confirmation by experience or even research. It's become part of the conventional wisdom and may not even be true. Without rigorous testing to confirm some of this lifespan could be attributed to bugs getting fed from collateral sources such as cats, rats, squirrels, mice or birds.

    Anecdotal comments gleaned from around the net suggest that nymphs don't survive as long as adults. I have seen some PCOs express that they note that 3-4 months deprived from food is a typical limit for adults. Of 3 adults/1-3rd instar nymph I put in a jar 3 weeks ago, the 3 adults appear to have expired when I blow in the jar, the nymph the only one responding obviously. At least two of the expired adults look dessicated. But again this is anecdotal, I haven't done even casual feed tests to confirm this, being too preoccupied with the task at hand, as you might imagine. We need real research published on these critters. Anyone have any links to papers/research, not rehashes of conventional wisdom?

  2. (deleted)

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sat Nov 24 2007 11:26:08
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    Actually, everyone seems to be working from Usinger's 1966 monograph which is discussed in this thread: http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/42

    Scroll down to read the comment from S which summarizes a longevity table.

    I've actually seen references to manipulating the environment and stretching that 18 months even further. So that under some circumstances (in a lab) it may be even longer.

  3. (deleted)

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sat Nov 24 2007 11:30:27
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    And this other post by Rom cites a daily egg production table that may be useful or interesting information: http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/716?replies=16#post-7963

    I did not buy it when it was reprinted but these are the two discussions of it in the forums that I know of.

  4. NotSoSnug

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sat Nov 24 2007 11:48:35
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    Thanks HLNM, that's the kind of thing I'm looking for. As usual with research you can't actually get it easily unless you belong to a group that has access to online journals, or find it printed or get one from a library. I'll take the excerpts in the Forum for now though I'd like to see the test conditions for myself. I guess my very casual observation of an older nymph outliving adults may be confirmed. But I won't do a bite test quite yet.

    Still no activity last night...

  5. (deleted)

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sat Nov 24 2007 12:29:11
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    You can ask entomologist/PCO Sean at thebedbugresource.com if you're looking for more reassurance or information. In one of his comments in his forums is where I saw the reference to 22 months longevity.

    I'm pretty comfortable accepting for practical purposes these mean longevity values. Trying to suss out a bedbug or calculate humidity and temperature variables is not going to help when you're faced with such uncertainty. Also, my feeling is that any number beyond a year must have a trivial impact on your plans. It's enough to motivate you to ensure that anything you are forced to store long-term stays put away for a long time. No unpacking of things 4 months down the line once you feel safe and promptly getting yourself reinfested, which is one of the reasons I favor the treatment protocols that direct you to leave most of your stuff out, unpacked, to be exposed to treatments and allow any stowaway bugs to emerge and die. (Also, by the time you have gone and stored something for a year, why would you not store it for another 6 months?)

    As far as research, normal internet searches at least bring up the abstracts which can give an idea of what has been done that doesn't date from the 30s and 40s (very little). Google scholar and Google books are also good to try if you have the time. There are also a number of posts here scattered throughout where people have posted other references. But the search engine is not very practical. For the standard references, check the links on the blog. I would read at minimum Harold Harlan's army technical guide and Stephen Doggett's Australian code of practice.

    (And glad you had an uneventful night.)

  6. NotSoSnug

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Nov 25 2007 0:20:59
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    Thanks HLNM, I had located those through this fine resource already but it's good to mention them in this thread for other's sake.

  7. UESbugs

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Nov 26 2007 13:50:27
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    Hi all. .about a week ago I posted "Caught One", and then explained how I'd found an adult in boyfriend's infested apt, and how perplexed I was that it was in a chrome round garbage can in the bathroom (as in - how in the world did it get in there to start with?). Anyhoo, it was an adult, and I bagged it in a small zippy, inside another zippy, and put it on the fridge with a magnet.

    Just before we left for Thanksgiving weekend, I put it in a drawer, so that the PCO (who came in the day we left), wouldn't take it and kill it. This morning, boyfriend tells me bedbug is dead, legs are bent under. Now, I haven't seen it since we left for the weekend, as I'm in my own apartment since our return, but I will see it tonight. How could this happen? Who killed it? I know it was alive and kickin' for days before we left and when I put it in the drawer. Did boyfriend do this? I'll have to give Spanish Inquisition later tonight because if he did NOTHING to disturb the begbug, this could be a very interesting scenario... again, he was only in there for about a week (airtight).

    ps- I've mentioned to him that maybe mr. bedbug is playing dead? We shall see later.


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