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J Comp Physiol B. 2012 Feb;182(2):189-98. doi: 10.1007/s00360-011-0607-x. Epub 2011 Aug 20.

Multiple traumatic insemination events reduce the ability of bed bug females to maintain water balance.

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Division of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases, School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


To examine how traumatic insemination, a wounding process to females inflicted by males during copulation, reduces the longevity of females of the bedbug, Cimex lectularius, we assessed if multiple bouts of mating impact water relations of females by measuring net transpiration water loss rates. Our studies show that net transpiration rate of females correlates with frequency of mating (small increase after exposure to low numbers of males; large increase after exposure to large numbers of males), and this is reflected by reduced female survivorship for as much as 22 days at 75% RH, 25°C. Water loss occurs up to 28% more rapidly in females after being held with large groups of males. Females that were exposed to males having their paramere removed, females exposed only to other females, and females kept in isolation (unmated) exhibited no reduction in ability to retain water, indicating that traumatic insemination was responsible for the net transpiration rate increase. Mechanical piercing of the female's abdominal wall leads to increased net transpiration rates for longer periods than puncturing the ectospermalege (regular mating site), implying that inaccurate copulation by males is extremely detrimental to the water balance of females and that the ectospermalege is uniquely modified to seal off more quickly to prevent excess water loss. Mating frequency and the associated increased water loss is considerably reduced by the addition of bed bug alarm pheromone components. Thus, females experience elevated water stress due to traumatic insemination, especially at high levels and when males fail to pierce the ectospermalege, and water loss prevention, likely by more rapid sealing of the wound, is a novel function of the ectopsermalege.

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