How Do Bed Bugs Know When To Come Out


Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.

Check if it’s bedbugs

Jeff March / Alamy Stock Photo

Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

Signs of bedbugs include:

  • bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
  • spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
  • small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

Bedbug bites can be red and itchy. They’re often in a line or cluster.

Otto Pleska / Alamy Stock Photo

Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling.

How you can treat bedbug bites

Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so.

Things you can do include:

  • putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling
  • keeping the affected area clean
  • not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • using a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bedbug bites (children under 10 and pregnant women should get advice from a doctor before using hydrocortisone cream)
  • antihistamines – these may help if the bites are very itchy and you’re unable to sleep

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • the bites are still very painful, swollen or itchy after trying treatments from a pharmacist
  • the redness around the bites is spreading

You may have an infection and need treatment with antibiotics.

Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

How to get rid of bedbugs

contact your local council or pest control service – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be resistant to some insecticides

wash affected bedding and clothing – use a hot wash (60C) or tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes

put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer (-16C) for 4 days (alternative to hot washing)

clean and vacuum regularly – bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early

do not keep clutter around your bed

do not bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first

do not take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs

Page last reviewed: 21 January 2019
Next review due: 21 January 2022

What Attracts Bedbugs to Human Environments?

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Once considered a pest of the past, bedbugs now make regular headlines as they infest homes, hotels, and dormitories worldwide. As bedbugs spread, more people worry about them and want to know what causes a bedbug infestation.

Though it might seem as if bedbug infestations are on the rise, historical context indicates that bedbugs and other bloodsucking parasites have been associated with humans for thousands of years. Throughout that history, people have endured them feeding on their blood. Bedbugs all but disappeared when people started using DDT and other pesticides to keep insects out of their homes. Although news headlines suggest bedbugs are conquering the world, the reality is that bedbug infestations are still at historically low numbers.

Why are they called bedbugs? Once they settle into your home, they congregate where you spend a lot of sedentary time: chairs, couches, and especially beds. They are attracted to you by the carbon dioxide in the air you breathe out, and you do a lot of breathing over the hours you’re in bed. Then they feed on your blood.

Bedbugs Don’t Care If You’re Clean or Dirty

Contrary to popular belief, there is no association between bedbugs and filth. They feed on human and animal blood, and as long as a source of blood is available to them, they will happily take up residence in even the most pristine home.

Being poor doesn’t put you at greater risk for bedbugs, and having wealth doesn’t immunize you from a bedbug infestation. Although poverty doesn’t cause bedbugs, impoverished communities may lack the resources needed to control infestations, making them more persistent and pervasive in such areas.

Bedbugs Are Excellent Hitchhikers

For bedbugs to infest your home, they have to hitch a ride on someone or something. They don’t usually stay on their human hosts after feeding, but they might hide in clothing and inadvertently go along for the ride to a new location. Most often, bedbugs travel in luggage after someone has stayed in an infested hotel room. Bedbugs may even infest theaters and other public spaces and spread to new locations via purses, backpacks, coats, or hats.

Bedbugs Go Where the Action Is

Since bedbugs travel by hitchhiking, infestations are more common in places with high rates of turnover in the human population: apartment buildings, dormitories, homeless shelters, hotels and motels, and military barracks. Any time you have a lot of people coming and going, there’s an increased risk that someone will carry a few bedbugs into the building. In general, owners of single-family homes have a lower risk of getting bedbugs.

Bedbugs Hide in Clutter

Once in your home, bedbugs scurry quickly to select a new hiding place; in beds and other furniture, behind baseboards, under wallpaper, or inside switch plates. Then it’s just a matter of time before they begin multiplying. A single female may arrive at your doorstep already carrying enough eggs to produce hundreds of offspring. While filth does not benefit bedbugs, clutter does. The more cluttered your home is, the more hiding places there are for bedbugs and the harder it will be to get rid of them.

Bed Bugs: Everything You Need to Know

Belonging to the orderhemipteraor true bugs, bed bugs are household vampires that feast on blood. They undergo a slow metamorphosis through a 5-stage life cycle that begins as an egg hatching into a nymph to end as a mature breeding adult with a nasty bite.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through what a bed bug is, how to spot them, and their life cycle.

A Quick View of Characteristics

The common bed bugs are interested in humans and don’t go for animals with fur. They can cover a lot of distance and travel about in personal belongings such as purses, luggage or gym bags. Bed bugs hate heat, so they won’t travel directly on your body, so protecting your belongings is the best way to prevent infestation.

Spotting Adult Bed Bugs

Have you seen apple seeds? Adult bed bugs look quite similar. Depending on their age, they are between 4.5mm and 7mm long and go from white when first hatched to a deep mahogany brown. A closer inspection reveals six legs, an oval-shaped abdomen and two short antennae.

Being an insect their anatomy is divided into three parts, head, thorax and abdomen.

    Head: Bed bugs have a tiny head and an eye on each side for 180 degree vision. For a nose they have a sharp ‘beak’, the clypeus, used to pierce skin. You may not notice it’s long proboscis since bed bugs keep it tucked under their bodies unless they are feeding. There are also two antennae.

Thorax: The midsection of a bed bug is called the thorax. Compared to other insect thoaxes, it’s quite tiny. Nearby there are rudimentary ‘wing casings’. There are no wings.

  • Abdomen: The abdomen of a bedbug is its most noticeable body part. In fact, it’s usually twice as wide as the thorax and around four times as long. From above, it looks quite rounded, but from the side, it looks flat.
  • Unlike many other similar-looking bugs, their bodies look quite segmented when you view them from above, and that separates them from carpet beetles and spider beetles. Their oval-shaped bodies also help identify them. They are wingless, which means they just cannot fly. Many people say that bed bugs can fly because they have wing pads. That’s not true because they do have the vestiges of wings but they are not developed enough to help them fly.

    So, how do they move? Well, they crawl, and more interestingly, they are capable of covering up to 4 feet in a minute. It may not seem far, but it’s usually enough for them to find a hideout when you try to kill them.

    The Bed Bug Life Cycle

    In their lifetime, bed bugs go through three stages including molting twice as an adult.

      Egg: Eggs are tiny and pearl white in color. They are laid in dark spots around your home. They take about 6 to 9 days to hatch.

    Nymph: During the second stage, nymphs or juvenile bed bugs hatch and are around 1.4mm long although some can be up to 4mm. Each nymph passes through five stages, known as instars to become an adult, and it takes about 5-8 days to complete each instar. Nymphs look like adults but they cannot breed.

  • Adult: Once hatched, a bedbug takes around 35-40 days to mature. They can be as large as 7mm and at this stage are capable of reproduction. Under ideal circumstances, adults can live up to 10 months, but their lifespan is usually between 3 and 10 months.
  • Understanding Nymphs

    When you talk about getting rid of a bed bug infestation, it’s important to try methods that clear the adults and eggs, as well as all the nymphs.

    Being white, nymphs are harder to spot but they only stay white until they take their first feed. Nymphs have a red lump in their abdomen where they store their blood meal as they slowly digest it. Once it’s completely digested they molt and shed their exoskeleton so they can grow larger.

    As they continue to digest and grow they turn brown. The color change shows they have absorbed the nutrients in the blood. In total, the nymph passes through five sub-stages or instars and with the completion of each, they get browner. Once an adult, they don’t change color again.

    Nymphs molt during instars and will molt five times altogether before they are mature adults. Between each molt, they need a blood meal to survive. Even though nymphs are small and too young to breed, they are still looking for a meal from the instant they hatch.

    Fact: Did you know that after feeding, those nymphs could grow six times their body weight?

    Can You See Bed Bugs With The Naked Eye?

    Of course, which is helpful if you’re on a mission to confirm you have a bedbug infestation. The adult bedbugs are the largest and darkest especially when they have recently fed. They also move much more slowly after they’ve just eaten.

    Nymphs are tiny but still visible despite being no larger than a pinhead although you might have trouble finding them without a torch.

    Bed bugs are nocturnal so active at night, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come out during the daytime to feed if there’s an opportunity. Even so, they prefer to hide in safe crevices and cracks during the day. This makes finding their hideouts more of an issue rather than being able to see them with the naked eye.

    Differences Between Males and Females

    It’s a subtle difference but still noticeable. To determine a bed bug’s gender, you need a close look at their abdomen. Ones that look slightly rounder are female bed bugs. Males are slimmer and more elongated, especially when unfed.

    A more obvious difference is at the tip of the abdomen. A closer look will show that females have rounder bodies whereas males have a more pointed tip, which is considered their sex organ.

    Fact: Did you know bed bugs bite a lot but you don’t feel it because they inject an anesthetic and anticoagulant while sucking blood but that may leave you with reddened bumps?

    The Bed Bug Reproduction Cycle

    Dealing with a bedbug infestation is difficult not only because these pests have become resistant to common pesticides but because they reproduce very quickly. If it was possible to find a way to stop them reproducing, we’d be able to get rid of them once and for all.

    Once a nymph passes through five stages and turns into an adult, it’s ready to breed. Bed bugs use a process called traumatic insemination. A male bed bug has to break through the shell of a female to inject sperm directly into its body. After traveling through the female’s body, the sperm eventually reaches eggs to fertilize them.

    Something that makes this whole process bad news for households is that once fertilized, the female is capable of lying at least one egg a day, and she can mate again to keep topping up the number of eggs she is carrying. This process continues for 6-8 weeks, which means plenty of eggs to grow into new bed bugs.

    Each female bed bug lays up to 200-250 eggs although some studies have recorded females lying more than 500. It all comes down to the right conditions. Females are likely to lay more eggs in warmer temperatures and in places where breeding and feeding conditions are most suitable.

    Compared tocimex lectularius, the common bed bug in the U.S., lays many more eggs than their tropical cousins.A tropical bed bug lays no more than 50 eggs in her entire lifetime.

    Fact: Did you know female bed bugs often migrate away from their harborages after the undergo traumatic insemination?

    Can Bed Bugs Survive Without a Blood Meal?

    One reason why we have failed to get rid of bedbugs for good is that they are very resilient and more than capable of managing without meal. However, once they have fed, it takes them a long time to digest the blood. Left unfed, they can last months without blood meal.

    Bed bugs can live longer without food when they are in cooler environments. In fact, experts believe that bed bugs can live up to a year without feeding at 55F or less. However, they may find it a bit harder to survive without food in temperature-controlled buildings but they can still survive for 6 months.

    This means that even leaving your home for a few months is not always going to work. These little blood-suckers won’t starve to death waiting for you to return.


    Bed bugs are notorious household pests, and as they reproduce quickly, with each female laying over 200 eggs, it doesn’t take long before you have a heavy infestation at hand. Leaving it unattended would result in serious issues, including itching and allergic reaction.

    Identifying those bugs, however, will help take quick actions and may make it possible to eradicate an infestation before the problem spirals out of control.

    Bed Bugs: Where Do Hide & Come From?

    The bed bug is a well known domestic insect lives in human…

    • Residences
    • Hospitals
    • Hotels and
    • Other places

    This tiny insect has the power to affect our regular lives by biting our skin. We can’t even sleep properly for its bites.

    This biting causes different skin problems. We can hardly identify the sources of bed bugs where the can hide. Here in this article, I am going to describe the topic…

    Before starting the discussion…

    I would like to tell you some basic information about bed bugs.

    This will encourage you to know the places where we can find the bed bugs.

    What Is A Bed Bug?

    7 Things You Should Know About Bed Bugs

    The bed bug is scientifically known as Cimex lectularius and comes from cimicid family.

    This insect has different stages of life.

    The bed bug of the primary stage is called the nymph. Bed bug requires human blood to feed and to grow from nymph to adult size.

    It bites on our skin with its beak and inserts saliva and sucks blood.

    They appear in our house due to our body heat and the carbon dioxide we release, room temperature etc.


    This insect bites us when there is low light in our room.

    Bed Bugs Hide

    Where Do Bed Bugs Hide?

    If you are about to trace the hideouts of bed bugs, you should be aware of their behavior first.

    Bed bugs have the pattern of“hit and run”feeding.

    They come outside only to get the element (blood) to live and reproduce.

    You will get them only they run out of foods. Then…

    Where do bed bugs come from?

    You will find bed bugs hiding at a distance of5 feetaround as they require to stay close to the food source. As they are small, they can easily hide their body within the small cracks, under the beddings, behind furniture etc. Bed bugs can’t fly or jump.


    There’s rare chance to stay far or hide. They can crawl to their destined places and come out when they feel to have food. Dark, robust places are more favorable to them.

    You may enjoy to read:

    Where Do Bed Bugs Hide During The Day?

    Bed bugs hide in the places nearby us.

    Their most common day hideouts are…

    …the beds, beddings, mattresses etc.


    These are also the things where bed bugs hide during the day behind or beside them.


    They are found hiding behind your favorite painting frames, electrical outlet covers, bookshelf etc. They keep themselves out of reach during daylight and come to feed at night.

    Bed bugs hide in some less common areas like the clothing, bags, luggage, purses etc.

    Where Do Bed Bugs Hide During The Night?

    Well, the night is preferable to bed bugs than day time. They choose this time to come out mostly rather hiding in their spots.

    Bed bugs love to come from the night hideouts and fulfill their needs.

    These hideouts can be your bed, nooks, and crannies of baseboards, couches, chairs, clothing and some other furniture.


    They stay out of the light behind or beneath these things.

    You may find them in the cracks of walls or ceilings, the corners of rooms where light hardly reaches.


    These bed bugs hide under the rugs, carpets, dog beds, in the laundry room.

    There are more places where these little insects stay at night those will surprise you.

    Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

    Perhaps this is the most common question about bed bugs. We almost look for the source of bed bugs rapidly when we have an infestation in our house.

    Let’s take a look at the name of this insect, bed bug.

    This means they are named after the bed from where they come most of the time.

    Bed bugs also come from the…

    • Mattresses
    • Cushions
    • Behind or under the furniture
    • Luggage
    • Wardrobe etc. places.

    How Do Bed Bugs Form?

    The appearance of bed bugs in our homes can start from just a presence of afertile femalebed bug.

    A female bed bug canlay 200-500 healthy eggsthroughout its lifetime.

    The daily rate oflaying eggs is about 2-5 a day.

    (It’s not the accurate amount, I can say it approximately.)

    That’s how the beginning of infestation occurs. Here is a misconception we have about bed bugs. We think that bed bugs won’t come in a neat and clean place.

    But it’s totally wrong.

    Bed bugs don’t care whether your room has dirt or not.

    …bed bugs are extreme hitchhikers.

    They form in the places where human population density is large. Adding to these, bed bugs may form if you are a frequent traveler.

    Bed bugs travel inside the luggage and clothes those you carry with you when you move to different areas.

    Especiallywhen you are staying in a hotel having an infestation, bed bugs may come with you.

    Are Bed Bugs Active During The Day?

    There goes another myth…

    …bed bugs don’t bite during the day. Ha ha…

    It’s obvious that bed bugs do bite at night in general.


    As I have mentioned that bed bugs come to human due to their body warmth and chemical, bed bugs maybite them during the day.

    When the duration of a bed bug’s feeding is longer and if it needs to feed again, then there’s a possibility to appear in the day.

    How To Find Bed Bugs During The Day?

    You may get bites of bed bugs at night.

    It is possible to find them during the day. You need to open up all the shades for letting the sunlight in.


    Turn on all the lights inside your house where you can have an infestation.

    Inspect all the corners of the room with a flashlight for clear views.

    Look for the signs of bed bugs.

    Look at the furniture and under the beddings.


    You can get confirmation of bed bugs in your residence.

    Can Bed Bugs Stay In Your Clothes All Day?


    Bed bugs can stay on the clothes the whole day.

    It is said that;

    Bed bugs canlive up to 12 months on your clothes.

    They come to bite to feed when they require the clothes.

    If these clothes are occasional or rarely used, then surely,

    Bedbugs cansurvive without bloodmeal for more than a year.

    A bed bug requires feeding in every5-7 days.

    The bed bug is a very small creature.

    Difficult to find?


    It’s hard to findthem during the night due to lack of light.


    You can identify them when you see any sign of bed bugs.

    Human blood is the only food they need to regenerate and survive days after days.

    Infestation of bed bugs may imbalance our daily lifestyle.


    It’s a must thing to know where do bed bugs come from and treat them taking necessary steps.

    When Do Bed Bugs Come Out?

    When Do Bed Bugs Come Out?

    Have you ever woken up from sleeping to find yourself scratching all over? Especially since you never felt a thing at night, and now you have these red bumps all over you.These weird rashes or bites are that of a bed bug.

    If you have doubts because you never felt a bite, you should know this is how bed bugs bite. The reason you have never seen them is that they have very fixed schedules and do not usually come out at other times.

    When Do Bed Bugs Come Out?

    Bed bugs are mostly nocturnal, but they do come out at other times as well. It is rare to see them during the daytime, but not impossible. However, usually at night is when bed bugs come out to feast. They are most active during the hours of 1 am to 5 am. This is the most likely time for them to find humans asleep, and the perfect time to feed on their prey.

    Bed Bugs Daytime Routine

    Bed bugs are not programmed to come out at night, they just do it because it is easy for them to feed at those times. This means they only come out during the day if they think they will find a meal. Their eating behavior and diet are very similar to humans if you look at their routines.

    Bed bugs come out to eat regardless of the time of day if they are hungry.

    The Bed Bug Inspectors

    Keeping the Night Lights On

    This is not going to help much. Mainly because bed bugs are not programmed to come out at night, but only do so to be able to feed. So even if you change your routine of sleep, they will adjust to it. If you keep the lights on, they will still come out to feed on you if they are hungry.

    If the infestation is severe, and there are lots in numbers, keeping the light on will not help at all. They will eventually feel hungry and come out all at once. They will always prefer darker places to lighter ones though.

    How Long Do Bed Bugs Stay Out?

    As long as it takes for them to complete a meal. Bed bugs always go for the closest skin they can find because they want to be done as soon as possible. Their primary goal is to feed without getting caught, so they do their jobs quickly and go back. Once they find the skin, they start by piercing it and sucking out the blood .

    A complete blood meal for a bed bug takes about 10 minutes.

    The Bed Bug Inspectors

    Unless you’ve never checked your home and furniture properly or have it checked out by professionals, you can never say for sure that you do not have bed bugs. You might have overlooked a bite or never felt it.

    Maybe you have not even been bitten. But that still does not ensure it. This is because bed bugs do not come out to feed every single day. They take turns feeding and have periods of gaps before they decide to come out again and feast on you.

    So, try to keep a watch out at night, clear your sheets and mattress, and have proper checks. Call up exterminators if you are unsure since they will surely be able to find out. It is of high importance that you get these checked.

    We always recommend that you contact professionals as it is tough ever fully to get rid of these vermin, and pretty impossible on one’s own. Professional help can help you eliminate them once and for all so you can sleep in peace.***

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