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Group Living Makes Bed Bugs Grow Faster

Update Date: Jan 09, 2014 02:30 PM EST
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Bed bugs grow faster when they live in groups.

New research reveals that bed bug nymphs that live in groups develop approximately 7.3 percent or 2.2 days faster than solitary nymphs. 

While previous studies revealed that certain insects like crickets and cockroaches grow faster in groups, no such research has ever been done on bed bugs. Researchers said the latest study is the first to document the effects of group living among bed bugs.

"Now that we found this social facilitation of growth and development, we can start asking what sensory cues are involved and how they contribute to faster growth," corresponding author Dr. Coby Schal of North Carolina State University said in a news release. "This should lead to some interesting experimental research on what sensory cues bed bugs use to grow faster in groups."

The study also revealed that the developmental effects of grouping are the same regardless of the age of the individuals in the group.  Researchers said that newly hatched bed bugs do not need interaction with older ones to grow at faster rates.

"The observations that adults do not appear to contribute to nymph development suggests that eggs can survive and found new infestations without any adults," Schal explained.

The findings are published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

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