How Do Bed Bugs Smell Humans

Do Bed Bugs Smell? Why and What Can You Do About It?

If you are reading this, you probably know that bed bugs have made a comeback. If you are dealing with a particularly large infestation, then you are also probably dealing with a nasty ‘buggy’ odor around your sleeping quarters. Yes, bed bugs smell and the description of this smell will vary based on who you ask. Some people report bed bug smell as a sickeningly ‘sweet smell of almonds’; still others claim it to be ‘woody’, while a third group claims it to be like “the smell of rotten raspberries”. In general: bed bug smell is nothing like anything you have experienced before and can also be very annoying.

In this guide, we will see what to do about bed bug smell.

Bed Bug infestation and how it occurs

If you are waking up each night with bite marks on your body, you might not attribute them to bed bugs at first. This is because; most people feel that they simplycannothave bed bugs as their premises are “spotlessly clean”. The thing is: bed bugs do not care how clean or unclean your surroundings are.The fact that you have bed bugs is also (usually) not through any fault of yours: these critters might have simply hitched a ride through your luggage from an infested motel or might have arrived at your doorstep courtesy of a recent guest.

“But I stayed in the best five-star resort!”

Again: immaterial. You might have stayed in the best of the best motels/hotels but even these are not completely devoid of bed bugs.Travelers unknowingly dump bed bug eggs in these places and this is how bed bugs have spread throughout the country. Also, you could even have brought bed bugs home through infested planes or buses.

The question is: what can you do about the bed bug infestation and its foul odor?

What are the reasons behind bed bug smell?

Bed bugs come out of their hiding places at night for a blood meal from you, the host. While you are sleeping, a single bed bug might bite you and could feed for up to 10 minutes. The bugs use the blood to grow and develop and the female bugs also use it for reproduction and laying hundreds of eggs.

As bed bugs move from stage to stage, they discard their exoskeletons. The bed bug smell usually arises due to these discarded shells, as well as the digested or partially digested blood meals. Also, you might see dried blood and rust colored spots around your sleeping quarters. All these factors also contribute to the nasty bitter-sweet smell in your surroundings. The male bed bugs also tend to secrete pheromones for attracting females and a mixture of all these odors contribute to bad bed bug smell in very large infestations.

What to do about bed bug odor?

The solution to getting rid of bed bug smell is to get rid of the infestation.Make sure that you discard all old mattresses and bedroom linen that has been ruined and stained completely thanks to the bed bugs. If you have new mattresses, you could enclose them in mattress encasements. The rest of the washable bed linen needs to be tossed in the washing machine on its highest heat setting preferably 120F. Where applicable, you could use some detergent and bleach to kill bed bug eggs.

Experienced pest controllers know where to look for bed bugs exactly since these critters are known to hide in cracks and crevices. The K9/dog bed bug detection units also use the bed bug smell to find out where bugs are hiding. You could consider enrolling the services of a good pest control company to get rid of the bed bug smell. Also, you can do the following things at home to assist with the professional bed bug eradication:

  1. Strip beds, sofas etc off their upholstery and linen. Toss everything in the washing machine and wash it using highest heat.
  2. Move furniture away from walls so that the professionals can treat areas behind and underneath it.
  3. Items which are not washable must be stored in plastic bags and taken outdoors in the sun and placed there for at least a day. If possible, you could spray the non-electronic items with bed bug sprays or powders.
  4. As stated before, cover the mattress with encasement. Spray and treat the bed’s box spring using bed bug products as advised by the professionals.
  5. Follow good housekeeping measures like vacuuming, wiping down surfaces etc. Your professionals might also use steaming or spot freezing treatment to get rid of bed bugs and the bed bug smell.
  6. EPA registered bed bug products like sprays, aerosols and powders can also be used.
  7. Fumigation through the use of bed bug bombs and foggers is another known method of bed bug elimination.

These are the tried and tested methods of bed bug elimination. Also check other resources on this website to ensure complete eradication of the bed bug smell.

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Bed Bugs FAQs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • a sweet musty odor.

How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.

Bed Bug Smell

What Do Bed Bugs Smell Like?

When bed bugs attach themselves to people or clothing, often in infested public places, they can be inadvertently introduced into homes. People can spot signs of an infestation in a number of ways, including by odor. A musty, sweet smell, often likened to berries, is commonly attributed to these pests. It often takes a large infestation to detect this bed bug smell.

Other signs of infestation include:

  • Dark blood stains on sheets and bedding.
  • Itchy, irritated skin from bites.

Impact of Bed Bugs Infestations

The presence of these small pests is unsettling for many people. During the evening, bed bugs use an anesthetic in their saliva to bite people without being detected. They tend to focus on the head and neck, but will attack any exposed skin. Although their bites cause discomfort, the pests are not known to spread diseases. They are, however, extremely difficult to control.

Detection & Removal

Most insects have defense mechanisms and bed bugs are no exception. Bed bugs use an alarm pheromone to increase mobility in response to certain situations. This causes bed bugs to move away from areas of the home, often foiling removal attempts.

This bed bug smell is an effective way for the pests to communicate and remain hidden. Because of their elusiveness, it is best to contact the professionals at Orkin for effective removal.

What Happens When You Squish a Bed Bug?

One of my friends who was infested with bed bugs always has a scotch tape around him. He used it as a bed bug sticky pad :). As if you squish a bed bug blood will pop up and smell also making things messy.

The other friend who was also in the same situation caught the bugs and put them into a water bucket – Drowned!

Bed bugs are tiny creatures that depend on human blood for their survival. They are not so harmful because they cannot spread diseases.

However, in some cases, people can get allergic reactions due to bed bugs bites. There are too small as it is impossible to see them with a naked eye.

You can use a handheld spray or hire a professional if you want to squash a bed bug in your hand because only a dead bed bug is a good bed bug.

You should try to avoid squashing bed bugs in your hands. However, if you succeed, they’ll drain and leave a nasty stain.

Can You Squish a Bed Bug?

Yes. It’s very easy to squish these bugs. You can squish them with your shoe or by hammering something against the bed bugs.

The most crucial thing in this process is to save your carpet or bedding from bed bugs stains.

These bugs are easy to kill, but if they feed recently, they will leave a red spot, which is due to the victim’s blood.

They leave blood marks on the floor or bedding if you squish them when they are bloated with blood.

If you know anything about blood stains, you know that it’s difficult but not impossible to get blood out of your carpets or garments.

Many people don’t know that bed bugs can digest the blood as humans digest their food.

When the bed bugs feed human blood, their color turns to red. After completing the digestion process, their color turns back to brown.

I Squished a Bed Bug and Blood Came Out

Will bed bugs pop when you squeeze them? Whether you can squeeze a bed bug or not relies upon whether they have recently fed.

A bed bug that did not feed for a long time has a hard shell, which makes it difficult to squish.

But if they recently feed the blood, you can pop them easily. Did you even realize that you ever wake up in the morning, bed bugs have bitten you?

When you lift the sheet, there’s a big spot of blood—not just drops, but quite a lot? That is the thing that happens when you squash a bed bug that is fed.

Are Bed Bugs Contagious?

No, pests can’t be contagious like a cold. These are bugs, and they are alive to skitter wherever they see fit. It means bed bugs can move from one home to another home.

Hotels and flats often have infestations that will start in one room and spread to other rooms, floors and other places.

If you go to your friend’s home, it is possible that the bug can hide away in your socks, purse or anything else. If this happens, there is a possibility you may pick up a female bed bug that will populate your home, causing a potential infestation in the future.

Do Bed Bugs Have Hard Shells?

Bed bug shells are generally inflexible. That is because their shell is an ‘exoskeleton.’

Insects have a hard shell that acts like a human skeleton. It gives their body structure and is hard enough to last through a fight. It is inflexible that’s why they shed their shell so frequently throughout their lives as they grow.

However, the back area of their body is progressively flexible. When they feed, the back portion of their body extends so that they can feed more and more

After they feed, then, they become easy to pop. Before they feed, their shells are almost similar to a fingernail, which makes it difficult to crush them.

However, when they have fed, they’re easy to squash among your fingers as a cooked bean or pea. Nymphs are considerably easier to crush since they haven’t yet developed a thick shell.

Can You Crush Bed Bug Eggs?

They squash simply as young bed bugs do, and it doesn’t take much effort.

The main issue is that bed bug eggs are hard to pick up or scratch off of a surface. The reason is that bed bugs lay their eggs at some hidden places so that the eggs won’t be disturbed.

Also, when they lay them, they use a glue-like secretion that will bond them in place on fabric, wood, or other material. It makes it hard to lift them to squash them.

However, if you would like to squash bed bug eggs, you can crush them where they were laid. Take a tissue and squeeze it over the egg. That should be sufficient to squash them.

However, it’s essential to emphasize that killing bed bug eggs by squeezing them is ineffective. Instead of doing this, you should use a spray because it takes less time and is effective against fully-grown bed bugs too.

Crushed Bed Bug Stain

If you squish a bed bug, they leave a stain behind. This stain is the blood that they have eaten and was about to digest. There may also be some blood that they have started to digest, which is darker and heavier.

H, you should avoid crushing bed bugs so that you don’t make pigments like these. But if you wake up and you have crushed a bed bug by chance, there isn’t anything you could have done to avoid that. If that’s the case, go over the following process.

  1. However, if the stain is fresh, wet the region with cold water to make the stain simpler to clean. At that point rub it with cleanser until you’ve made a limited quantity of lather before washing.
  2. If the stain is an old one, utilize a pre-treatment stain remover to release the blood and touch on a limited amount of ammonia with a Q-Tip before washing.

You may find that even this won’t get the stain out. If you try many things are not working, don’t waste your time to buy a new bed sheet.

Do Bed Bugs Smell When You Kill Them?

Bed bugs use smell to help them to understand the world. They use the smell which helps themselves to find their way back home again like the underside of your mattress. They can surround the area with a strong scent. What you think when you kill them, do they produce a scent?

Bed bugs use ‘alarm pheromones,’ which they discharge when they sense they’re at risk.

They’ll discharge them when their harborage is exposed, for instance, by you flipping the mattress over. The fact is to ‘tell’ other bed bugs that something wrong is going on, so they better run.

Their alarm pheromones smell similar to their regular fragrance but hold different chemicals that the bed bugs can pick up on. According toScientific American, the scent is like coriander, or like something fusty (like clothes that have been in the washing machine for too long).

If they have just fed, there is another scent that you might notice. That’s the scent of blood. Blood smells both sweet and metallic. It contains sugars and iron, which is what you smell. As it takes a while for the bed bug to digest the blood they take from you; it will quiet smell ‘fresh.’

Can You Pop a Bed Bug Bite?

Bed bug bites and other pest bites may change from spots. These spots may be caused by an allergic reaction, where the area around the bite swells up. It is known as the histamine response.

It’s brought by the small amount of saliva that the bed bug uses to numb the area that they bite. It causes white blood cells to stream to the area, the same as a pimple.

However, there’s one key distinction. With a pimple, the pressure constructs and fabricates because the pore is obstructed by something.

That is not the situation with a bed bug bite. The pressure can’t develop, which implies that there’s nothing to pop.

A few people have revealed that squeezing the bite forces a little amount of whitish liquid/discharge from the wound, like a pimple. That is brought about by the white platelets. In any case, doing that won’t make the bite pop or go away.

Other Bugs That Bleed When Smashed

If you squished, a bed bug blood would come out. Many bugs bleed when you squash them, even though none are easily confused with bed bugs.

You are more likely to notice blood if the pest you squash is one that feeds on the stuff. That includes:

  • Fleas
  • Mosquitos and midges
  • Ticks
  • Lice and mites
  • Certain kinds of fly

None of these creepy crawlies looks much like bed bugs, aside from ticks. At the point when ticks feed, the back portion of their body grows, much the same as the bed bug’s back portion grows. You can squash them, as well, on the off chance that you need to get blood all over your hands.

These bugs don’t drain when you squash them. Pests don’t have blood like people. They have hemolymph, which does the same as blood does in mammals. It isn’t red. Instead, it’s blue-green shading, since it contains copper instead of iron.

Wrap Up

You can squash a bed bug with your shoes or anything else hammering against them. When you squash a bed bug, the blood will come out. However, if a bed bug has not fed for a long time, it may have a strong shell. So, it may difficult to squash a bed bug when they have not fed for a long time. On the other hand, if the bed bugs recently fed, you can pop them effectively.

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What Do Bed Bugs Eat? Do They Only Feed On Humans?

While bed bugs like human blood, they have been known to feed on animals like bats too. Discover more about bed bugs and their different types.

Bed bugs. You want them gone. They want to take over your home – and your bed. They do that well, staying hidden by day and preying on you at night while you are defenseless. This works for them and keeps them out of trouble with their human blood donors. But what do bed bugs eat besides blood?

There are many species of bed bugs, and they all feed on blood. Most species prefer one mammal over another. For some, the blood of specific mammals is required for them to lay viable eggs and survive. Most bed bugs, however, will feed on any blood available to sustain themselves, if their preferred warm blood is not available.

The most common species of bed bug associated with people is formally named Cimex lectularius. Human blood is their primary energy source. We house them, feed their young and provide them with the nutritional elements they must have to breed and produce viable eggs.

Should bed bugs be found in your house, they will most likely be C. lectularius, but it is important to remember that there is a possibility of other species invading, such as bat bugs. Bat bugs are in the same family as bed bugs and formally named Cimex adjunctus. As their name indicates, bat bugs live with and feed mostly on bats. Like C. lectularius, they will feed and survive on the blood of other mammals, including humans, but they must have bat blood to reproduce.

It is very important to identify which Cimex species you have, because their habits and habitats are quite different. In a typical bed bug infestation, close to 70 percent of the bed bugs will be either on or very close to the bed area.

You may not realize you have a bat infestation until bat bugs are identified in your home. Bat bug infestations will usually be in the attic or wall voids where bats have been nesting. These hiding spots are in completely different locations than that of bed bugs. Control must include removal of the bats and the bat bugs.

What do bed bugs eat? They might snack on animals. They might have bat-tasting relatives. But in the end, the bed bug’s favorite thing to eat is your blood. It will probably take a professional pest management specialist to identify whether you are dealing with human bloodsuckers or their bat brethren. The primary identifier is the relationship between the length of the hairs on the pronotum and the size of the eyes. Don’t know what a pronotum is? Then save your time, and your blood – call a professional.

Do Earwigs Bite?

If you shudder a little when you think about earwigs, you’re probably not alone. They’ve developed quite a nasty reputation, thanks to urban legends (mostly false) that have been circulating for years. But are they harmful?

The Lifespans of Insects With Short Lives

Many insects, such as butterflies, have a lifespan that occurs in four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Other insects, such as grasshoppers, do not have a pupal stage and instead go through three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The length of each stage can vary based on many things, from the insect species to the temperature outside—but what some insects share in common is a very short adult stage. Keep reading to learn about five insects with some of the shortest adult stages in their lifespan.

The Return of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

The change of seasons from summer to fall means many things: leaves changing colors, dropping temperatures, and—depending on where you live—stink bugs sneaking into your home. Stink bugs were named for their distinct ability to emit an unpleasant odor when they are threatened or disturbed by predators like lizards or birds. This also means that if stink bugs enter your home and feel threatened, you’ll be faced with dealing with their strong smell in your house. As we head into fall, you might find yourself with more active stink bugs than usual, so it’s important to know the basics about these smelly insects.

What are Earwigs?

Most people have probably heard of earwigs at some point or another. These creepy-looking insects are associated with some urban myths. Learn the truth about earwigs, including what attracts them and how to help get rid of them.


The majority of ticks will deliver painless bites without any noticeable symptoms. However, some ticks can carry a variety of bacteria and pathogens for disease. Although not all ticks are dangerous, you don’t want to risk coming into contact with these blood-sucking insects.


The majority of ticks will deliver painless bites without any noticeable symptoms. However, some ticks can carry a variety of bacteria and pathogens for disease. Although not all ticks are dangerous, you don’t want to risk coming into contact with these blood-sucking insects.

Are Bed Bugs Contagious?

Bed bugs are not too picky about where and when they catch a ride and don’t necessarily have a preferred mode of transportation, so it’s no surprise how many people wonder, are bed bugs contagious?

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