A new study has come out showing that bed bugs inbreed to start new colonies. This inbreeding doesn’t seem to hurt them either as it does in most species. This news came about at the latest American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene annual meeting where researches met in Philadelphia to announce the news.
Ed Vargo and Coby Schal, both Entomologists at North Carolina State University, made this new discovery after closely studying the genetics of bed bugs that had infested large apartment buildings. They founds that the bed bugs in the apartments had very find likeness, but slightly less throughout the building. This means that the infestations started most likely from one or two bed bugs in each apartment that infested.
Because the bugs can withstand high levels of inbreeding and still produce healthy offspring, they are able to start with small number and quickly reproduce causing a full scale infestation. They are able to reproduce at a highly exponential rate giving them the advantage of being able to colonize. This means that a large scale infestation can be cause by a single female that has been matted.
Another species that can handle inbreeding is the cockroach. Most other species develop abnormalities that bring the population to an end quickly. Researchers say they are not quite sure that guards the bed bug from the harms of inbreeding, but are continuing to look into it as it may be a possible lead to the irradiation of these pests.
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