Journal of Pest Science (2018) 91:823–835
Insect pathogenic fungi and bed bugs: behaviour, horizontal transfer
and the potential contribution to IPM solutions
· Morten Hage
· Bjørn Arne Rukke
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 21 November 2017 / Accepted: 1 December 2017 / Published online: 13 December 2017
© The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication
The increasing problem of bed bugs requires the development of new control strategies, and insect pathogenic fungi can
contribute towards management. We used laboratory bioassays with Isaria fumosoroseus, Lecanicillium muscarium and
Beauveria bassiana to evaluate their virulence to the bed bug. Only B. bassiana signiﬁcantly aﬀected bed bug survival and
was dependent on dose and formulation. A 2% B. bassiana oil formulation induced horizontal transfer to elevate mortality
in a 10-day arena bioassay. Temporal distribution of contagious individuals and increasing the dose from 2 to 4% did not
increase mortality. Horizontal transfer mainly occurred between adults, and only partly between adults and nymphs. Bed bugs
showed activity peaks during the night, and activity was increased by elevated levels of CO
. Distribution between harbour-
ages was not aﬀected by CO
activation, level of infection or the bio-pesticide, and horizontal transfer was not dependent on
the degree of aggregation. Movement in the arenas negatively aﬀected horizontal transfer when the number of susceptible
individuals was large. Level of infection also inﬂuenced behaviour as the bed bug movement increased with elevated disease
burden. The use of fungi as a part of an integrated pest management strategy seems to be an interesting option that should
be investigated further. B. bassiana kills bed bugs and can be carried to harbourages to target hidden individuals.
Keywords Cimex lectularius · Integrated pest management (IPM) · Beauveria bassiana · Horizontal transfer ·
Aggregation · Activity
Insect pathogenic fungi may contribute in control strate-
gies against bed bugs.
Beauveria bassiana signiﬁcantly aﬀected bed bug sur-
vival and was dependent on dose and formulation.
Horizontal transfer mainly occurred between adults.
As a part of an IPM strategy, the consistent mortality and
the horizontal transfer may contribute to elevated popula-
tion mortality and improved control by reaching hidden
or passive individuals.
The worldwide return of the blood feeding bed bugs (Cimex
lectularius, Hemiptera: Cimicidae) is a result of pesticide
resistance, increased travel, ineﬀective control, trade with
second-hand furniture and unawareness of preventive meas-
ures in the accommodation industry and among the general
public (Doggett et al. 2018 in press). The diﬃculty of eradi-
cation can largely be assigned to pesticide resistance (Dang
et al. 2017; Davies et al. 2012) and a cryptic and nocturnal
lifestyle of the bed bugs (Reinhardt and Siva-Jothy 2007).
This has caused an increased focus on developing control
strategies and promoted the use of integrated pest manage-
ment (IPM), where new and partly experimental tools such
as trapping (Olson et al. 2017; Singh et al. 2013; 2015),
steam treatment (Loudon 2017; Puckett et al. 2012) and
desiccant dusts (Aak et al. 2016; Akhtar and Isman 2016;
Benoit et al. 2009; Singh et al. 2016; Wang et al. 2013) can
supplement more conventional approaches (Doggett et al.
2012; Koganemaru and Miller 2013).
Communicated by E. Quesada-Moraga.
* Bjørn Arne Rukke
Department of Pest Control, Norwegian Institute
of Public Health, Lovisenberggata 8, Postboks 4404,
0456 Nydalen, Oslo, Norway