The bed bug, Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), occurs in aggregations until the conditions are no longer beneficial, leading to dispersal. Active and passive bed bug dispersal causes migrations from main aggregations either within a room, from room to room within a building, or from building to building. Because bed bug movement is an important factor in the spread of infestations, we wanted to determine how population structure and size affect bed bug aggregations. Engorged bed bugs were placed in glass petri dish arenas at varying densities, sex ratios, and population compositions. Nymphs had a high tendency to aggregate, varying between 94 and 98%, and therefore were not the likely dispersal stage of the bed bug. At densities of 10 and 40 adults at a 1:1 sex ratio, there were significantly more lone females than lone males. When the population composition was varied, the percentage of lone females was significantly higher than that of males and nymphs at population compositions of 40 and 80% adults. When the sex ratio of adults was varied, there were significantly more lone females than males in arenas with 20, 50, and 80% males. Females, being found away from aggregations significantly more often than any other life stage, are potentially the dispersal stage of the bed bug. Active female dispersal away from main aggregations can potentially lead to treatment failures and should be taken into account when using control methods.
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