A screen of pharmaceutical drugs for their ability to cause short-term morbidity and mortality in the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L

Parasitol Res. 2017 Oct;116(10):2619-2626. doi: 10.1007/s00436-017-5565-0. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L., is a hematophagous ectoparasite that preferentially feeds on humans. Pharmaceuticals present in a person's blood may adversely affect C. lectularius when it feeds. We fed >10,000 C. lectularius on blood samples containing more than 400 different drug doses and drug combinations using an in vitro feeding system to determine insect mortality. The majority of drug doses approximated the peak plasma concentration in humans taking those drugs. Twenty-one drugs were found to cause >17% 12-14-day mortality compared to 8.5% mortality in the control (p < 0.05), but postliminary testing of three of the drugs, famotidine, ethambutol, and primaquine, did not demonstrate an increase in C. lectularius mortality. We also tested 23 drugs for their effects on C. lectularius fecundity. The results may have implications for understanding C. lectularius population dynamics in an infestation.

Keywords: Bed bug; Cimex lectularius; Drug screen; Fecundity; Ivermectin; Toxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bedbugs / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Fertility / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / pharmacology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sheep


  • Insecticides