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Cimex lectularius

Resource Type
Common Name
Bed bug

The two species of bed bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) usually implicated in human infestations are Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus. Humans may also rarely become incidental hosts of Cimex species that normally fed on bats and birds. Although C. lectularius has a cosmopolitan distribution, C. hemipterus is limited to the tropics and sub-tropics.

The bed bug Cimex lectularius is a member of the family Cimicidae, a group of true bugs that are highly specialized for feeding on blood, mainly that of humans, birds, and bats. All these hosts occur in temporally and spatially predictable, gregarious assemblages in or around enclosed spaces such as caves or buildings and all have a relatively high body temperature. Cimex lectularius has been closely associated with humans for thousands of years (it is one of several cimicid species for which humans are the primary host). Despite this close association, however, it survives well on bird, bat, and rabbit hosts in the laboratory (in fact, it produces more eggs, and the hatched nymphs develop faster, when reared on mice, a host rarely encountered in nature) and has been found in the wild on several different bird and bat hosts. Nymphs of C. lectularius die within a few days of hatching if they do not feed and egg production ceases soon after adult females are prevented from feeding. Cimicids all mate by traumatic insemination, during which the male pierces the female’s abdominal wall (see Reproduction). (Reinhardt and Siva-Jothy 2007 and references therein)

There appears to have been a dramatic increase of C. lectularius in the developed world--notably in North America, Europe, and Australia--beginning in the 1980s or 1990s, particularly in hotels. Reinhardt and Siva-Jothy (2007) suggest that although these increases are facilitated by cheap air transport and increased travel, they are probably exacerbated by the disappearance of folk knowledge of these insects in the developed world. For example, most people under age 50 in the developed world have no ability to recognize (e.g., by smell) bed bugs and to take early measures to control infestations of these insects. (Reinhardt and Siva-Jothy 2007 and references therein) Another important factor in the recent resurgence in bedbug infestations in human dwellings seems to be the widespread evolution of resistance to commonly used pesticides (Romero et al. 2007).

Adults and all nymphal stages of Cimex species need to take blood meals from warm-blooded hosts, which are typically humans for C. lectularius and C. hemipterus, although other mammals and birds can be utilized in the absence of a human host. Female bed bugs lay about five eggs daily throughout their adult lives in a sheltered location (mattress seams, crevices in box springs, spaces under baseboards, etc). Eggs hatch in about 4-12 days into first instar nymphs which must take a blood meal before molting to the next stage. The bugs will undergo five nymphal stages, each one requiring a blood meal before molting to the next stage, with the fifth stage molting into an adult. Nymphs, although lacking wing buds, resemble smaller versions of the adults. Nymphs and adults take about 5-10 minutes to obtain a full blood meal. The adults may take several blood meals over several weeks, assuming a warm-blooded host is available. Mating occurs off the host and involves a unique form of copulation called ‘traumatic insemination’ whereby the male penetrates the female’s abdominal wall with his external genitalia and inseminates into her body cavity. Adults live 6-12 months and may survive for long periods of time without feeding. (Centers for Disease Control Parasites and Health website)

© Shapiro, Leo Creative Commons License, Summary Courtesy of EOL

Data were generated by the Baylor College of Medicine's i5k pilot project.

Please cite one or more of the following publications when using the C. lectularius genome Clec_1.0, annotations BCMv0.5.3, and annotations OGSv1.2:
Benoit, J. B., Adelman, Z. N., Reinhardt, K., et al. Unique features of a global human ectoparasite identified through sequencing of the bed bug genome. Nature communications 2016, 7. doi:10.1038/ncomms10165
(dataset) Benoit, Joshua B. ; Gibbs, Richard A.; Worley, Kim C.; Murali, Shwetha C. ; Edward Vargo; Lee, Sandra L.; Muzny, Donna M. ; Palli, Subba R. ; Hughes, Daniel S. T. ; Coby Schal; Zhu, Fang ; Chao, Hsu ; Dinh, Huyen ; Doddapaneni, Harshavardhan ; Qu, Jiaxin ; Dugan, Shannon ; Blenau, Wolfgang ; Booth, Warren ; Han, Yi ; Richards, Stephen (2015). Cimex Lectularius Genome Assembly 1.0. Ag Data Commons.
(dataset) Hughes, Daniel S. T. ; Chao, Hsu ; Benoit, Joshua B. ; Qu, Jiaxin ; Worley, Kim C. ; Murali, Shwetha C. ; Richards, Stephen (2015). Cimex lectularius Genome Annotations v0.5.3. Ag Data Commons.

Please cite the following publication when using the C. lectularius genome Clec_1.1:
Fountain, T., Ravinet, M., Naylor, R., et al. A Linkage Map and QTL Analysis for Pyrethroid Resistance in the Bed Bug Cimex lectularius. G3 2016, 6, 4059-4066. doi: 10.1534/g3.116.033092

Please cite the following publication when using the C. lectularius genome Clec_2.1:
The Genomic Basis of Arthropod Diversity. 2018. Thomas, G. W. C. et al. bioRxiv 382945, doi:

  1. Thomas GWC, Dohmen E, Hughes DST, Murali SC, Poelchau M, Glastad K, Anstead CA, Ayoub NA, Batterham P, Bellair M, Binford GJ, Chao H, Chen YH, Childers C, Dinh H, Doddapaneni HV, Duan JJ, Dugan S, Esposito LA, Friedrich M, Garb J, Gasser RB, Goodisman MAD, Gundersen-Rindal DE, Han Y, Handler AM, Hatakeyama M, Hering L, Hunter WB, Ioannidis P, Jayaseelan JC, Kalra D, Khila A, Korhonen PK, Lee CE, Lee SL, Li Y, Lindsey ARI, Mayer G, McGregor AP, McKenna DD, Misof B, Munidasa M, Munoz-Torres M, Muzny DM, Niehuis O, Osuji-Lacy N, Palli SR, Panfilio KA, Pechmann M, Perry T, Peters RS, Poynton HC, Prpic NM, Qu J, Rotenberg D, Schal C, Schoville SD, Scully ED, Skinner E, Sloan DB, Stouthamer R, Strand MR, Szucsich NU, Wijeratne A, Young ND, Zattara EE, Benoit JB, Zdobnov EM, Pfrender ME, Hackett KJ, Werren JH, Worley KC, Gibbs RA, Chipman AD, Waterhouse RM, Bornberg-Bauer E, Hahn MW, Richards S. Gene content evolution in the arthropods.. Genome biology. 2020 01 23; 21(1):15.
  2. Fountain T, Ravinet M, Naylor R, Reinhardt K, Butlin RK. A Linkage Map and QTL Analysis for Pyrethroid Resistance in the Bed Bug Cimex lectularius.. G3 (Bethesda, Md.). 2016 12 07; 6(12):4059-4066.
  3. Benoit JB, Adelman ZN, Reinhardt K, Dolan A, Poelchau M, Jennings EC, Szuter EM, Hagan RW, Gujar H, Shukla JN, Zhu F, Mohan M, Nelson DR, Rosendale AJ, Derst C, Resnik V, Wernig S, Menegazzi P, Wegener C, Peschel N, Hendershot JM, Blenau W, Predel R, Johnston PR, Ioannidis P, Waterhouse RM, Nauen R, Schorn C, Ott MC, Maiwald F, Johnston JS, Gondhalekar AD, Scharf ME, Peterson BF, Raje KR, Hottel BA, Armisén D, Crumière AJJ, Refki PN, Santos ME, Sghaier E, Viala S, Khila A, Ahn SJ, Childers C, Lee CY, Lin H, Hughes DST, Duncan EJ, Murali SC, Qu J, Dugan S, Lee SL, Chao H, Dinh H, Han Y, Doddapaneni H, Worley KC, Muzny DM, Wheeler D, Panfilio KA, Vargas Jentzsch IM, Vargo EL, Booth W, Friedrich M, Weirauch MT, Anderson MAE, Jones JW, Mittapalli O, Zhao C, Zhou JJ, Evans JD, Attardo GM, Robertson HM, Zdobnov EM, Ribeiro JMC, Gibbs RA, Werren JH, Palli SR, Schal C, Richards S. Unique features of a global human ectoparasite identified through sequencing of the bed bug genome.. Nature communications. 2016 Feb 02; 7:10165.
Organism Image
Image Credit
Piotr Naskrecki, Public domain. View source.
NameProgramDate Constructed
Cimex lectularius genome assembly Clec_2.1 (GCF_000648675.2)AllPaths LG v. 35218; Atlas Link v. 1.0; Atlas GapFill v. 2.2; redundans v. 0.12cDec 12th, 2017
NCBI Cimex lectularius Annotation Release 101NCBI Eukaryotic annotation pipelineFeb 28th, 2018
Cimex lectularius Official Gene Set OGSv1.3remap-gff3Oct 1st, 2018
Cimex lectularius Official Gene Set v1.2Baylor College of Medicine and National Agricultural Library Official Gene Set generationJun 22nd, 2015
Functional annotation of Cimex lectularius Official Gene Set v1.2AgBase functional annotation pipelineSep 30th, 2020
Whole genome assembly of Cimex lectulariusBaylor College of Medicine genome assembly pipelineJul 16th, 2013
Assembly Stats
Contig N50
Scaffold N50
GC Content
Other Information
Community Contact
  • Subba Palli|
  • Coby Schal|