Research Article

The longevity of the fasting bed-bug (C. lectularius L.) under experimental conditions and particularly in relation to the saturation deficiency law of water-loss

C. G. Johnsona1

a1 Department of Entomology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

1. With unfed 1st instars the relation between mean length of life and saturation deficit at constant temperatures between 7 and 15° C. at relative humidities between 7 and 90% is hyperbolic. The relationship becomes more linear at higher temperatures.

At constant saturation deficits insects live longer at 15° C. than at lower temperatures. Longevity also decreases with rise of temperature above approximately 15° C.

2. In general, the longevity curves, except for those at temperatures below 15° C., bear a very similar relation to saturation deficit and to each other as the reciprocal curves for rate of water-loss at the different temperatures.

The influence of climatic factors on longevity at constant temperatures is discussed at length and it is concluded that over much of the temperature and humidity range survival time is limited by water-loss. At the higher humidities it is thought that either food, or perhaps an excessive accumulation of water within the insect, limits survival and causes a departure from the hyperbolic relation of longevity to saturation deficit.

3. The effects on longevity of a single meal are discussed. The principal effect of a blood meal is to increase the time of survival. But the factors which limit survival at different humidities appear to be the same as with unfed bugs, except at high humidities below about 15° C.

4.Mellanby's data on the rate of water-loss from fasting adult bed-bugs is analysed. It is found that the rate of water-loss is directly proportional to saturation deficit at constant temperatures between 8 and 37° C. and between 0 and 90% r.h. Although the rate may always be directly proportional to saturation deficit, the expression S0031182000015742inline1 is not always constant.

Rate = K + b (saturation deficit), where K varies with temperature and b remains constant.

5. Longevity in relation to host blood is discussed. Rabbit blood appears to be slightly less favourable to survival than human blood.

6. If bugs are allowed to feed to repletion, longevity is not correlated with the size of the meal, nor with the weight of the unfed insect.

Virgin females live longer than mated ones, but no effects of mating on survival were noticed with males. Mated males tend to outlive mated females except at very low temperatures: virgin females live longer than unmated males.

7. The results of other workers and the possible causes of some discrepancies are discussed.

8. The maximum survival times of bugs are listed. Adults and 5th instars live longer than other stages. In a house which has remained empty for a long time it is probable that 5th instars and adults, particularly unmated female adults, would predominate in the population.

The longest observed survival was between 562 and 572 days.

(Received November 21 1939)