Merck Manual

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Bedbugs of Poultry


James R. Philips

, PhD, Math/Science Division, Babson College

Last full review/revision Oct 2013 | Content last modified Oct 2013

Cimex lectularius is a common bloodsucking parasite in temperate and subtropical climates that attacks poultry, people, and most other mammals. It is rare in modern laying operations, but breeding houses and pigeon lofts may become heavily infested. The life cycle may be completed in 2–6 wk or extend much longer, because nymphs can withstand fasting for ~70 days, and adults for as long as 12 mo. Feeding usually occurs at night. Bedbugs become engorged within 10 min, then hide in cracks and crevices. If attacked by large numbers of bedbugs, birds may become irritable and anemic. Bites are usually followed by swelling and itching due to injection of saliva into the wound. Signs of infestation include bug fecal droppings on eggs and nest boxes, breast and leg skin lesions, reduced egg production, and increased feed consumption.

Control is best accomplished by thoroughly cleaning the houses, reducing hiding places for the bedbugs, and fumigating the houses with organophosphates or pyrethroids that remain on surfaces providing access to hosts.

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