Two compounds in bed bug feces are sufficient to elicit off-host aggregation by bed bugs, Cimex lectularius

Joelle F. Olson, Leonard M.Ver Vers, Roger D. Moon, Stephen A Kells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: After feeding, bed bugs aggregate in cracks and crevices near a host. Aggregation and arrestment are mediated by tactile and chemical stimuli associated with the bugs' feces and exuviae. Volatiles derived from fecally stained filter papers were analyzed by solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and evaluated using a multichoice behavioral assay to determine their impact on bed bug aggregation. In addition, crude fecal extracts were collected in methanol, analyzed by gas chromatography coupled with electroantennogram detection (GC-EAD) and mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and evaluated in open-air multichoice behavioral assays. RESULTS: The SPME method was used to detect (E)-2-hexenal and (E)-2-octenal in heated bed bug feces. The presence of these two volatile components did not affect aggregation. Analysis of the crude fecal extracts revealed several semi-volatile nitrogenous compounds, a carboxylic acid and a sulfur-based compound. Adult antennae responded to compounds eluted from three regions of the crude extract using GC-EAD. A combination of two compounds, dimethyl trisulfide and methyldiethanolamine, resulted in aggregation responses equivalent to the original crude extract. CONCLUSION: Bed bug aggregation is mediated by semi-volatile compounds derived from fecal extracts, and two compounds are sufficient to elicit aggregation. The two compounds identified here could be used to enhance the effectiveness of insecticidal applications or improve monitoring techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalPest management science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Society of Chemical Industry


  • Cimex lectularius
  • aggregation
  • arrestment
  • dimethyltrisulfide (DMTS)
  • methyldiethanolamine (MDEA)
  • pheromone


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