What Attracts Bed Bugs?

Bed bug fear or bedbug worry concept as a cast shadow of a a parasitic insect pest resting on a pillow and sheets as a symbol and metaphor for the anxiety horror and danger of a bloodsucking parasite living inside your mattress.

What Attracts Them & What Keeps Them Away? 

Bed bugs are notorious creatures with a knack for showing up uninvited and overstaying their welcome. Known for hiding in homes and hotels, these creepy crawlers have a reputation for being particularly pesky. Bed bug problems are hard to discover and even harder to eliminate. But what makes these pests appear? 

Like cockroaches, termites, or any common household pest, bed bugs have their own preferred food and living conditions. In this article, you’ll learn what attracts bed bugs into your home, what makes them bite humans, and how to keep them away. 

What attracts bed bugs into your home? 

While some insect infestations are associated with a dirty home or mattress, bed bugs can invade your home simply by hitching a ride on your person or belongings. Public places such as buses, airplanes, hotels, and movie theaters are where bed bugs hide waiting for a place to lay their eggs. 

How can I tell if I have bed bugs?

Bed bugs are skilled at hiding, so it can be hard to know if you’re facing an infestation. Some ways to tell if you’ve got a bed bug problem include waking up with itching bumps, bloodstains on your bedding, and finding shed exoskeletons, egg shells, or dark, rusty-colored spots of bug fecal matter on your walls, pajamas, sheets, or mattress. Give your bed a thorough look-through by removing your bedding and examining the box spring and its wood framing. Also, check the area around your bed. Look around your nightstand, against the wall, at electrical outlets, and along carpet edges to find any potential hiding spots. 

The itchy welts that bed bugs leave behind after feeding can easily be confused for mosquito bites. Bed bug bites are usually found on areas that are exposed while you sleep – the hands, shoulders, arms, and neck. Oftentimes, they are grouped together in one area and can appear in lines or zigzag patterns. They are not painful after occurring and like mosquito bites, can go unnoticed for a while. The easiest way to confirm your bed bug suspicions is to find the bugs and identify them yourself. Adult bed bugs are about the size of apple seeds, have a reddish brown color, and have flat, oval-shaped bodies. However, after feeding, their bodies swell, making them appear larger. 

Bed bugs prefer a climate of 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit and where a food source is constantly available. This makes our bedrooms the perfect environment for them to feed and breed, allowing female bed bugs to lay one to five eggs each day. It takes about 35 days for adult bed bugs to mature and they have a lifespan of about 12 months. This makes it very easy for infestations to spread rapidly. 

Remember, bed bugs love hiding in every nook and cranny. Their small, flattened bodies easily fit into cramped, tiny spaces and lay there in wait until food arrives. Common nesting areas include box springs, headboards, bed frames, and mattresses. While they’re not drawn to dirty or poorly kept environments like other pests, rooms with clutter or with multiple pieces of furniture (such as beds, chairs and sofas), can also make an appealing home for them. 

Woman with magnifying glass detecting bed bug in bedroom

What attracts bed bugs to humans?

Unfortunately, bed bugs are attracted to warm-blooded creatures. While they can feed on animals, they are most often found sucking the blood of humans. Our blood is their primary food source, making bed bugs parasitic in nature. They’re attracted to our body heat, exhalation of carbon dioxide, and other bio signatures. To feed, their bodies have an elongated beak that pierces the skin to withdraw blood. They feast for 3 to 10 minutes, then crawl back into hiding. 

Our inactivity makes a free all-you-can-eat buffet for these pests, which is why bed bugs usually chow down at night. However, they are not selective about their meal times. A few factors can change their feeding schedule, including daytime sleeping patterns and large infestations. As mentioned earlier, sitting down on public transportation or in a movie theater is also enough inactivity for bed bugs to bite.  

Are bed bugs attracted to any particular scents? 

The scent that bed bugs are most attracted to is your own human scent. We know that’s gross, but there are no common household cleaning products you can use to draw bed bugs out of hiding. 

Looking for a natural way to deter bed bugs? A few scents bed bugs dislike include:

  • Mint 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Citrus 
  • Lavender 
  • Vinegar
  • Garlic (that’s right – just like vampires) 

These scents tend to irritate their senses, making them look for new places to hide. Though they can be used to repel bed bugs to draw them into traps, using scents alone is not an effective way to kill them. 

What keeps bed bugs away? 

While some products such as Katchy use UV lights to kill flying insects such as gnats, mosquitoes, and fruit flies, the best way to kill bed bugs is with heat. Professional exterminators will also treat infected rooms and furniture with chemical treatments and dry steam. 

Cleaning up infected areas can also help your bed bug problem. Remove clutter from around your bed, wash your clothes and bedding in 120-degree water for 30 minutes and dry them on the highest setting, and vacuum your bed and the surrounding area often. Before vacuuming, scrub mattress seams with a hard, stiff brush to remove any bed bugs or eggs. After vacuuming, put the vacuum cleaner bag in a trash bag and dispose of it in an outdoor trash can or dumpster. Also, repair any cracks in the walls or floors near your bed. 

How do I remove bed bugs from my home? 

The easiest way to get rid of bed bugs is to call a professional. Bed bugs are one of the hardest pests to eliminate and are nearly impossible to remove on your own. However, this doesn’t mean DIY remedy the bed bugs into oblivion or to throw away everything you own. Instead, call an exterminator to handle the issue before you get more bugs, bites, and expenses arise!

Bed bugs are pesky insects, professional hitchhikers, and can create pricey problems if ignored. They can be picked up from any public area, invade your home, and cause chaos at the time that matters most to many of us: bedtime. They’re attracted to our warm bodies, carbon dioxide exhalation, and feast on our blood day or night. Sadly, they’re one creature that loves us for us. 

It makes sense that we’d want to keep bed bugs away from us. They’re gross, suck on our blood like vampires, and desecrate the sanctity of our bedrooms. They’re a painful nuisance and are hard to remove on your own. It is important to remember that while there are some steps you can take to relieve your home of bed bugs, their full extermination is best handled by a professional. Do what you can, then pick up the phone and call someone to handle the problem quickly and efficiently.

Don’t wait. Exterminate!

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