The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), has recently re-emerged in increasing numbers, distribution and intensity of infestation in many countries. Current control relies on the application of residual pesticides; but, due to the development of insecticide resistance, there is a need for new tools and techniques. Semiochemicals (behaviour and physiology modifying chemicals) could be exploited for management of bed bugs. However, in order to identify semiochemicals that can be utilised in monitoring or control, a suitable olfactometer is needed that enables the study of the responses of bed bugs to volatile chemicals. Previous studies have used olfactometers that do not separate olfactory responses from responses to physical contact. In this study, a still-air olfactometer was used to measure behavioural responses to different bed bug-derived volatiles presented in an odour pot. Bed bugs were significantly more likely to visit the area above the odour pot first, and more frequently, in the presence of volatiles from bed bug-exposed paper but not in the presence of volatiles from conspecific bed bugs. Bed bug activity was found to be dependent on the presence of the volatiles from bed bug-exposed paper, the time during the scotophase and the sex of the insect being tested. The still-air olfactometer could be used to test putative semiochemicals, which would allow an understanding of their behavioural role in bed bug ecology. Ultimately, this could lead to the identification of new semiochemical tools for bed bug monitoring and control.
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