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Fertilization and egg production in the bed-bug, Cimex lectularius L.

  • Kenneth Mellanby (a1)

Previous workers have described the curious method by which the female bed-bug is fertilized. They have suggested that the large quantity of sperm injected serves some function other than that of fertilizing the egg.

The rate of metabolism of the virgin bug is much less than that of the fertilized female.

Ovarian development never occurs until the female has been fertilized. After fertilization, egg development is apparently controlled by a hormone produced by the corpus allatum.

Living sperm will always be found in the spermathecae of females which are laying fertile eggs.

The so-called imperfect eggs produced when the sperm is exhausted are normal save for being unfertilized. They have been considered as malformed because of their tendency to shrivel quickly in dry air.

Sperm remains viable in the female for a definite period depending on the temperature. This period is longer at low than at high temperature. Provided a certain minimum amount of sperm is introduced (this minimum is less than the quantity introduced by a well-nourished male at one copulation), the period of viability of sperm is the same no matter how many eggs are produced. The number of eggs depends only on the amount of food taken.

There is no evidence that the sperm serves any nutritive function in the female.

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Abraham, R. (1934). Das Verhalten der Spermien in der weiblichen Bettwanze (Cimex lectularius L.) und der Verbleib der überschüssigen Spermamasse. Z. Parasitenk. 6, 559–91.
Christophers, S. R. & Cragg, F. W. (1922). On the so-called “penis” of the bed-bug (Cimex lectularius L.) and on the homologies generally of the male and female genitalia of this insect. Indian J. med. Res. 9, 445–63.
Cragg, F. W. (1920). Further observations on the reproductive system of Cimex, with special reference to the behaviour of the spermatozoa. Indian J. med. Res. 8, 3279.
Cragg, F. W. (1923). Observations on the bionomics of the bed-bug, Cimex lectularius L., with special reference to the relations of the sexes. Indian J. med. Res. 11, 449–73.
Mellanby, K. (1938). Activity and insect survival. Nature, Lond., 141, 554.
Mellanby, K. (1939). The physiology and activity of the bed-bug (Cimex lectularius L.) in a natural infestation. Parasitology.
Wigglesworth, V. B. (1936). The function of the corpus allatum in the growth and reproduction of Rhodnius prolixus (Hemiptera). Quart. J. micr. Sci. 79, 91121.
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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
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