Bedbugs like to “keep it in the family“:
And bedbugs’ eagerness to mate with their kin is one reason their populations have taken off so dramatically. Inbreeding comes naturally to them, and it doesn’t seem to hurt their offspring much, as is the case with most other creatures.
“When we look at the genetic makeup of an apartment building, we found that most of the time, the bugs are all related to each other,” entomologist Coby Schal tells Shots. “That suggests that there is a lot of inbreeding occurring.”
He and another entomologist named Ed Vargo examined genetic markers of apartment-dwelling bedbugs in New Jersey and North Carolina. They found remarkable genetic similarities among bedbugs living under one roof.
Schal says all it takes is one mated female to check into a room for the bedbug party to get started. Once her sons and daughters become adults —about 35 days — they will mate with each other. Their offspring will repeat the cycle and so on.
“Inbreeding allows bedbugs to establish a large population with a small start,” Schal says. The amount of genetic similarity among the offspring suggests that outside bugs are rarely getting in on the action.