Bedbugs are obligatory hematophagous, or blood sucking, insects of the genus Cimex lectularius classification and normally feed off of human blood. They will grow up to 5 millimeters in length and 3 millimeters wide in size. Newly hatched bedbugs are translucent, and will continue to darken in color until they are reddish-brown and reach full maturity. They can live for up to a year without food, but they usually feed every 5 to 10 days. Bedbugs are attracted to their hosts’ warmth and carbon dioxide, and are typically found within a person’s bed or mattress. If needed for forensic purposes, the DNA of human blood can be recovered from the bedbug’s body for up to 3 months.
These insects mate by traumatic insemination, which is the process by which a male bedbug pierces a female’s abdomen, inserting his penis into her hemocoel, or abdominal cavity, and injecting his sperm through the wound. Diffusing through the female’s hemolymph, the sperm will finally reach the ovaries and will complete the fertilization process. The wound is detrimental to the female’s health and may be susceptible to infection until the wound is completely healed. Males will even try to mate with other males, piercing their abdomen, resulting in nothing but a wound for the victim. When disturbed or attacked by a predator, bedbugs will release what is known as the “bedbug alarm pheromone,” which consists of (E)-2-octenal and (E)-2-hexenal. A study conducted in 2009 found that these male bedbugs will also release this pheromone alarm in order to repel males attempting to mate with them. The Genus Cimex hemipterus and Cimex lectularius, if given the opportunity, will mate with each other; however, the eggs produced are usually sterile. A 1988 study of these specific species mating reported that only 1 out of 479 eggs was fertile.
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