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This is a mating method common among insect species, but not in more developed animals. The male bed bug clambers on top of the female to start mating.
Traumatic insemination is where the male breaks through the female’s exoskeleton with a body part called an aedeagus. The aedeagus is a long, sharp reproductive organ that performs the same function as a penis.
The male will inject sperm into the female’s abdominal cavity, called the hemocoel. The sperm will then travel through her body through a system essentially analogous to the bloodstream, before arriving at her ovaries, where it will fertilize her eggs.
According to the Royal Society, she has a special organ called the spermalege, or Organ of Berlese. The spermalege is unique to bed bugs, and is the best location from which the sperm can travel around her body. It’s located on the right side of her body.
Since it’s visible through her shell, it’s almost like a target for the male to aim at. Studies suggest that the male will generally aim at the spermalege, and that it may somehow also act to prevent infections of the wound that’s left behind.
When Do Bed Bugs Mate?
This is possible because the temperature indoors is more consistent, so even if it’s cold outside, the temperature in your bedroom will be just right for your uninvited guests.
However, that doesn’t mean that bed bugs are raring to go, whenever they like. According to BMC Biology, bed bugs start to show an interest in mating just after they’ve fed.
There are various reasons why that’s likely to be the case. They have more nutrients in their systems, meaning that they can produce more fertile sperm and eggs.
Females are also likely to move slower after they’ve just eaten. While the female does want to mate and produce young, it’s also highly stressful since she gets injured, so she’s often reluctant.
Being slower makes her easier to catch. Her spermalege will also be more easily visible as her abdomen is extended, engorged with the blood she’s digesting.
How Long After Mating Does a Bed Bug Lay Eggs?
Because they lay eggs, the female doesn’t have to carry her young around inside her. Instead, she creates a hard egg and hides it somewhere that it can develop in peace.
Because they don’t have to wait for their young to develop before laying an egg, bed bugs can start laying eggs shortly after mating.
The male’s sperm travels through the bed bug’s equivalent of a bloodstream, so it reaches the ovaries quite quickly. She then has to develop the eggs inside herself, which takes a few days.
Over these few days, the female will usually leave her harborage in search of somewhere new. The process of traumatic insemination leaves behind a wound, which becomes a scar.
If she were to stay among the males of her previous harborage, they would also try to mate with her, and make the wound worse. She’ll try to find somewhere else to live before laying her eggs there.
She’ll then lay eggs continually for weeks afterwards. After six to eight weeks, she’ll need to mate again. Ideally, she’ll mate with perfect timing, so that she never has to stop laying eggs at all. A single female can, therefore, be responsible for an entire infestation, hundreds-strong.
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