Semiochemicals of the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L. (Hemiptera: Cimicidae), and their potential for use in monitoring and control

Pest Manag Sci. 2011 Jan;67(1):10-20. doi: 10.1002/ps.2024. Epub 2010 Sep 21.


The recent resurgence of the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L., has driven an increase in research into the biology and behaviour of this pest. Current control is reliant on the application of insecticides, but, owing 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. The aim of this review was to evaluate studies undertaken in bed bug chemical ecology to date, with particular reference to how the research could be exploited for monitoring and control. Bed bugs, like many other insects, have a complex olfactory system. Recent studies have characterised the olfactory sensilla, located on the terminal segment of the antennae, to functional classes by electrophysiological screening. Behavioural studies have revealed the presence of an alarm pheromone and potential airborne aggregation semiochemicals, but it is not yet understood if bed bugs use a sex pheromone during mating. Host location cues have been investigated, and carbon dioxide has been found to be highly attractive both in laboratory and in field studies. Recent field trials have tested blends of other potential kairomones, which have been shown to have an additive effect when used in a heated bed bug trap with carbon dioxide. The trap, which combines heat and kairomones, is the only trap currently available with proven efficacy in the field. In order for semiochemicals to be useful for bed bug management, an increased knowledge and understanding of the biology, behaviour and chemical ecology of this insect is essential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bedbugs / chemistry*
  • Bedbugs / drug effects
  • Bedbugs / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Insect Control / methods*
  • Pheromones / chemistry
  • Pheromones / isolation & purification
  • Pheromones / pharmacology*
  • Smell


  • Pheromones
  • insect attractants