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Bedbugs Love a Crowd, Study Finds

The parasites with lots of company grow faster than solitary peers, study says

WebMD News from HealthDay

Medical expert offers tips on how spotting

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Something to think about when you have trouble sleeping: Bedbugs grow faster when they live in groups, a new study finds.

It was known that this occurred among other insects, such as crickets, cockroaches and grasshoppers, but no such research is believed to have been done on bedbugs.

The North Carolina State University researchers found that bedbug nymphs (baby bedbugs) in groups developed more than two days (7.3 percent) faster than solitary nymphs. The study was published in the January issue of the Journal of Medical Entomology.

The researchers also discovered that the growth-related effects of living in a group are the same regardless of the age of individual bedbugs in the group. This means newly hatched bedbugs don't require the company of older bedbugs to have higher growth rates.

"The observations that adults do not appear to contribute to nymph development suggests that eggs can survive and start new infestations without any adults," study corresponding author Coby Schal said in a journal news release.

The researchers said the next step is to determine what sensory cues bedbugs use to grow faster in groups.

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