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Bed Bug Feeding: The Water Bath Method (Part 2/3)

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Last week, we discussed the most effective bed bug feeding method—the live host method using human and animal blood—as well as its shortcomings. In this week's installment of our three-part series on bed bug research, we will cover the first of the two main artificial feeding methods in use today: the water bath method.

Perhaps the most widely-used method, the water bath method was developed by Montes et al. (2002) and involves specialized glassware, a circulating water bath and a plastic membrane - Parafilm M®. The bottom of the glassware is covered with stretched Parafilm M® plastic that acts as a membrane, the blood is inserted into the membrane and is kept at 37-40°C using a warm water bath and pump that circulates the water through the feeders (Montes et al. 2002). Filter paper strips are placed inside the insect container to allow the bed bugs to reach the mesh lid, which is in contact with the membrane containing the blood.

The water bath method removes the need for live hosts and is very effective when carried out correctly. Some disadvantages of this method are the requirement for custom made glassware that can be expensive, and the potential for bed bug death due to the leaking of blood that can occur when the parafilm weakens from the heat of the water bath.

Next week, in the final installment of our three part bed bug feeding series, we will cover the second artificial feeding method used in labs: the petri dish method.

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: or +353 (0)1 633-6820