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Bed Bug Feeding: airmid healthgroup Presents a Three-Part Blog Series

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bed bug airmid healthgroup

It’s summer—the prime time of the year for travel. Yet, with the hustle and bustle of hotels, luggage, airports, and rental cars, summer travelling also starkly correlates with rises in bed bug problems. To assist in tackling this issue, airmid healthgroup presents a special three-part blog series to provide advice to researchers looking to combat the spread of these insects. Over the nextthreeweeks, airmid healthgroup will discuss methods to keep bed bugs alive for research and their associated challenges.


From the time of the Greek and Roman empires, bed bugs have been a known pest to humans. During the 1950s, the numbers of these nocturnal feeding insects began to decline due to the widespread use of insecticides such as DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) but the early 2000s saw a resurgence of bed bugs worldwide (Davies et al. 2012; Kolb et al. 2009). Several factors that have contributed to its resurgence include increased international travel which can result in the insects/eggs being transported in luggage and clothing, resistance to pesticides and lack of knowledge regarding their control (Williams and Willis 2012). Though bed bugs have not been shown to transmit any human disease, a bed bug infestation can cause both physical and psychological discomfort. When bed bugs feed, they inject saliva into hosts and this saliva can elicit allergic reactions, reddening, swelling, inflammation and itching in humans. In addition, bed bug infestations tend to be associated with negative social stigmas that can cause psychological stress (MSDH 2012).

To address this recent bed bug outbreak, there is a growing demand for researchers to rear and study these insects to develop viable bed bug proof products. However, for insects that have spread so rapidly across major cities in the past few years, bed bugs are actually difficult to keep alive in laboratory settings. One of the biggest problems is that bed bugs only eat one thing—blood (preferably, human blood). In addition, bed bugs must feed by piercing skin and sucking blood, making it necessary for scientists to mimic these conditions. As specialists in bed bug testing, airmid healthgroup’s science team will discuss three different effective mechanisms to rear bed bugs (Chin-Heady et al. 2013):

  • Human volunteers
  • Live animals (chickens, rabbits, pigeons)
  • Artificial feeding techniques

Next week, we will cover the most effective method, the live host method, as well as its shortcomings.


Contact Graeme Tarbox if you have any questions on the issues raised in this article and to learn how we can add value to your company:

About airmid healthgroup
airmid healthgroup helps clients with products and services related to residential and commercial indoor environments to differentiate their customer offerings through health relevant marketing claims. Clients include Dyson, LG, Stanley Steemer, Shaw Industries, Tarkett, Spring Air and Kenmore. airmid healthgroup creates value for clients through a number of collaborative strategies, including field research projects, environmental test chamber studies and licensing our own intellectual property. airmid healthgroup specializes in studying the relationship between allergens, viruses, bacteria, molds or other ultra-fine particles in the air and on surfaces to the spread of illness and disease in buildings. As a leading authority on biomedical and aerobiology research, they use this deep domain knowledge to improve products and services to make the indoor environment as healthy as possible.

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