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Title: Human skin triglycerides prevent bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) arrestment
Abstract Bed bugs ( Cimex lectularius ) have proliferated globally and have become one of the most challenging pests to control indoors. They are nocturnal and use multiple sensory cues to detect and orient towards their human hosts. After feeding, usually on a sleeping human, they return to a shelter on or around the sleeping surface, but not directly on the host. We hypothesized that although human skin odors attract hungry bed bugs, human skin compounds may also prevent arrestment on hosts. We used arrestment assays to test human skin swabs, extracts from human skin swabs, and pure compounds identified from human skin swabs. When given a choice, bed bugs preferred to arrest on substrates not previously conditioned by humans. These responses were consistent among laboratory-reared and apartment-collected bed bugs. The compounds responsible for this behavior were found to be extractable in hexane, and bed bugs responded to such extracts in a dose-dependent manner. Bioassay-guided fractionation paired with thin-layer chromatography, GC–MS, and LC–MS analyses suggested that triglycerides (TAGs), common compounds found on human skin, were preventing arrestment on shelters. Bed bugs universally avoided sheltering in TAG-treated shelters, which was independent of the number of carbons or the number of double more » bonds in the TAG. These results provide strong evidence that the complex of human skin compounds serve as multifunctional semiochemicals for bed bugs, with some odorants attracting host-seeking stages, and others (TAGs and possibly other compounds) preventing bed bug arrestment. Host chemistry, environmental conditions and the physiological state of bed bugs likely influence the dual nature behavioral responses of bed bugs to human skin compounds. « less
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Scientific Reports
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L.) (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) are obligate hematophagous ectoparasites, and, therefore, must locate suitable hosts to ensure survival and reproduction. Their largely nocturnal activity suggests that chemosensory and thermosensory cues would play critical roles in host location. Yet, the importance of olfaction in host attraction of bed bugs remains unclear. We developed and validated a Y-tube, two-choice olfactometer and tested its suitability for investigating attraction to human odors (from skin swabs). Olfactometer orientation significantly affected the percentage of bed bugs that were activated by human odors, with significantly more bed bugs responding when the olfactometer was oriented vertically (bug introduced at bottom of the olfactometer) compared with all other orientations. Starved (7–10 d) adult males, mated females, and nymphs responded (47–77% moved up the olfactometer and made a choice) when human odors were present in the olfactometer, while starved, unmated females did not respond. Skin swabs from all five human participants elicited high response rates (65–82%), and bed bugs from four different populations responded to skin swabs (40–82% response rate). However, in all assays including those resulting in relatively low response rates, bed bugs exhibited >90% preference for human odors over blank controls. These results provide strongmore »evidence that bed bugs can respond and orient towards human odors, independently of all other host cues. Furthermore, the validated olfactometer should enable rapid and efficient evaluations of bed bug behavioral responses to semiochemicals.« less
  2. Appel, Arthur (Ed.)
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  4. Abstract

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  5. Abstract Background

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