Aspects of the biology, specific status and control of the bedbugs Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus in northern Natal and KwaZulu.
The bedbugs Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) have been identified from a study area in northern Natal and KwaZulu. South Africa, between 26° 45' S and 28° 45' S, and 32° 00 ' E and 32° 52' E. Morphological behavioural data suggest that the pigeon bug, C. columbarius, which closely resembles C. lectularius, is not present in Zulu huts. Two characters are suggested to supplement Usinger's (1966) key for distinguishing the nymphal stages of C. lectularius, and a key is presented for the case of G. hemipterus. Distinguishing features between the nymphal stages of the two species are also given. The two species were found to be sympatric over most of the study area, with C. hemipterus the more plentiful species in the north and apparently still in the process of invading the study area. Evidence was found that C. hemipterus replaces C. lectularius in huts where initially both species were found, and this agrees with laboratory findings that interspecific mating tends to shorten the life span and reduce the egg production of female C. lectularius females. Interspecifically mated female C. lectularius can be recognised by an easily visible morphological change in the reproductive system (Walpole, 1988b) and this character was used to prove that interspecific mating takes place in the wild. The size and life-stage composition of bedbug infestations were investigated together with factors likely to affect their growth. Cimex hemipterus was found not to be at a disadvantage as regards rate of egg production despite low temperatures in the wild, which suggested that such interspecific differences apparent in the laboratory may be an artifact. The specific status of C. lectularius and C. hemipterus are discussed, with particular reference to their cross-mating in the wild and the production of a hybrid. The acceptability of the Recognition Concept of species (Paterson, 1985) is considered in detail. The susceptibilities of wild bedbugs of both species to DDT, dieldrin and fenitrothion were tested in comparison with a susceptible strain of C. lectularius. Field trials of bendiocarb, deltamethrin and fenitrothion were carried out involving monitoring by bioassay and insecticidal knockdown. Subsequent to successful bedbug control operations, reinfestation rates and rates of replastering of mud walls of huts (an indigenous method of attempted bedbug control inimicable to malaria control operations) are assessed.