Scientists decode bed bug stink of love

11 December 2012 - 13:33 By Times LIVE
A bed bug. File picture.
A bed bug. File picture.
Image: CDC/ Harvard University/ Dr. Gary Alpert/ Dr. Harold Harlan/ Richard Pollack/Piotr Naskrecki

Scientists have, through real time analysis, noted the specific pheromones given off by bed bugs when they mate.

According to the research published in the free online journal PLoS One, when bed bugs mate the male injects his seed directly into the torso of whichever bed bug it is trying to mate with.

Repeated mating can actually shorten the life of the recipient of this behaviour, and according to previous studies the male bugs have been known to give off a stink that the researchers assumed was to try and stop homosexual encounters.

However this study done in real time with video found that copulation was shortened by the release of the female’s equivalent pheromones.

“In contrast to earlier studies there was no significant difference in the ratio or in the amount of (E)-2-hexenal and (E)-2-octenal regardless of whether they were assigned to a female or a male. Thus, this is not a specific male recognition signal as suggested earlier, instead it can protect both males and females against unwanted mountings,” the researchers wrote.

The female bed bugs didn’t always emit these chemicals however, as the researchers noted, “We did observe copulations that were carried through without the emission of any defensive compounds. Thus, it seems likely there could be situations where the female will accept a mating attempt, e.g. when she actually needs a mating to continue egg production.”