How Far Can Bed Bugs Smell Blood
Bed bug behavior – What smell can tell
Bed bugs are on the rebound in developed countries. Traditionally, bed bugs are controlled with pesticides. However, traps with attractive human body odors are a promising alternative. In two interesting studies Harraca et al. investigated the response of bed bugs to human body odors.
Bed bug behavior – What smell can tell
Bed bugs on the rebound
Those of you who think that bed bugs belong to developing countries are wrong. Bed bugs are on the rebound in developed countries. Traditionally, bed bugs are controlled with pesticides. But the development of pesticide resistance has led to a need for alternative control methods.
Trapped in odors
For blood-feeding insects, traps baited with attractive odors are promising. Experimental biology therefore focuses on the host searching behavior of those insects. Once the attractive body odors are identified, they can be applied to traps to attract the blood-sucking insects.
What bed bugs smell
Harraca et al. investigated in two interesting studies which body odors are detected by bed bugs. They identified which sensilla on the antennae respond to which human odors. A strong response in the sensilla indicates that the bed bugs smell the odor well and that the odor may affect their behavior. Therefore, the odors that gave the strongest response in the sensilla were used to study the bed bug behavior. These were the aldehydes heptanal, octanal, nonanal, and decanal and the ketone sulcatone.
Harraca et al. used EthoVision to determine the preference of the bed bugs for areas with or without these odors and the tendency of the insects to explore their environment.
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:
- Strip beds, sofas etc off their upholstery and linen. Toss everything in the washing machine and wash it using highest heat.
- Move furniture away from walls so that the professionals can treat areas behind and underneath it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- EPA registered bed bug products like sprays, aerosols and powders can also be used.
- 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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Got bed bugs?Here are 10 products that can help you get rid of and prevent them.
How Do Bed Bugs Find You?
August 23, 2018 by pb
Bed bugs can see you!
Well. No not really. They have eyes. But that’s not necessarily how they see you.
But what bed bugs do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills they have acquired over a very long period of time. Skills that make them a nightmare for people like you and me.
Although bed bugs aren’t quite on Liam Neeson level of finding people, they are excellent at finding humans.
So how do they do it? How do bed bugs find you?
Bed Bugs are attracted to the Co2 we exhale (especially to at night when a large cloud of it hangs over us like a large neon sign), the warmth of our bodies, and even our smell!
But, How Do Bed Bugs Find Us?
Bedbugs are adapted to find food (us) from thermal signature (heat) and then feed by locating and piercing skin. This approach has been used to make artificial feeders for laboratory studies and the work of the Sheffield University Entomology group in creating these feeders confirms that bed bugs cannot lap up blood from a heated pool.
Blood itself is not an attractive for bedbugs. The bugs find us by warmth and CO2.
When you’re going to bed, most likely you’re the warmest thing in a bedroom (especially if you’ve given up incandescent light bulbs and switched to LEDs). All of the furniture in the room is at about room temperature, usually between 68 and 85 degrees as determined by the temperature outside or your home’s ventilation system.
So you’re lying there in bed with a toasty core temperature 98.6 degrees, with a skin temperature of about 91 degrees. Bed bugs are attracted to this warmth and will seek you out.
Your body heat is an attractant but only close up, like 8-10 inches. Other factors may entice the bed bugs from further away (CO2) but once they get in range and can feel the heat that driving element takes over and the bugs come right for you.
Did you know that bed bugs can sense Carbon dioxide? Yeah, weird right?
There have been numerous entomological studies showing not only the bed bugs attraction to C02 but specifically the appeal of the release of CO2 that is consistent with our sleeping patterns.
There was a presentation at the National Pest Management Association’s national conference on bed bugs (PestWorld) where C02 was used as an attractant between two diametric poles with nearly 85% of the bugs moving towards the C02 pole.
The numbers of bedbugs captured were 656 and 5898 in traps without and with CO2 , respectively. The numbers of bedbugs of all development stages captured were significantly greater in traps with CO2.
CO2 is a universal thing around humans. We exhale it with every breath we take. When we sleep, we emitted carbon dioxide, and a cloud of it sits in the room, lingering. That lingering CO2 is a giant flashing neon arrow over your body advertising an “all you can eat buffet” to bed bugs.
You might try sleeping with a ceiling fan on, which can distribute the carbon dioxide evenly throughout the room. That might work well if it were their only way of detecting you, but unfortunately, they can also locate you other numerous ways.
Bed bugs like the smell of us!
An interesting twist to the bed bugs phenomenon is their attraction to dirty laundry.
In an article on popsci.com, discusses bed bugs attraction to dirty laundry and how researchers tested their hypothesis.
Researchers asked volunteers to wear white cotton t-shirts and socks for three hours in the afternoon, then placed the soiled items into plain cotton tote bags. Then they fed precisely 10 bed bugs a diet of fresh human blood and placed them in a container at the center of a controlled room. Four bags, two
with dirty laundry and two with clean versions of the same clothes, were spaced at even intervals in a cross pattern around the bugs.
Once the bed bugs had acclimated to their new home, the container was lifted; they had four days to explore the room. In some runs, the room also contained a block of dry ice to simulate a sleeping human. When the group repeated this multiple times and gathered all the data, they found that bed bugs were twice as likely to make their home in dirty laundry as they were clean laundry. They didn’t wander aimlessly around the room or hide in a corner—they actively chose to live inside the clothes that smelled of human.
This is an excellent thing to remember when you’re on vacation. Keep your dirty laundry in a sealed bag and throw in the dryer when you get home to be sure to kill off any traveling bed bugs.
Bed Bugs – How far do bed bugs travel?
February 15, 2017
Bed bugs do not hop, skip or jump. They don’t have wings so they cannot fly. However, bed bugs are really good at crawling and hitching rides on clothing, furniture and other items. In fact, that’s one way a bed bug infestation begins. One female bed bug is introduced and deposits eggs in the environment can result in having 400-600 offspring in a few months.
Bed bugs are lazy; they don’t like to move around once they have found an environment that provides all the things that bed bugs need; food, harborage (shelter) and a comfortable temperature range.
Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood. They need a host for feeding. Harborages are any crack or crevice that a bed bug can crawl into. In terms of temperature, bed bugs do very well at temperatures humans feel comfortable; typically, temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees F. As temperatures climb above 90 degrees F., bed bugs become stressed. In fact, at 119 degrees F. bed bugs begin to die-off. Bed bugs are much more tolerant to lower temperatures. Bed bugs have been found outdoors where the temperatures have dropped below 32 degrees F and they appear to be dead. When carried indoors, however, they warm-up and return to normal function.
Bed bugs will stay in their harborages if they have access to a host (blood meal) every 4-5 days and the environment is at room temperature; 55-78 degrees F. Clearly, there are situations that cause bed bugs to move such as changes in available harborage sites, access to a host and temperature fluctuations.
Research has indicated bed bugs will travel from their harborage site to a host and back again. The distance traveled in a 24 hour period may be as much as 40 to 50 feet or more back and forth from the host to harborage.
If the environmental requirements change, the bed bug will try to adapt and stay put. However, bed bugs will migrate from room to room and from apartment to apartment to find a suitable environment.
When a bed bug is first introduced into a home, it may crawl around for days until it locates the right “circumstances”. Bed bugs prefer to hide close to where they feed, but if necessary will crawl several feet to obtain a meal. Initially the bugs tend to be situated around sleeping areas, i.e., beds, couches and recliners. If infestations are allowed to persist, they also may disperse to other locations within the dwelling making elimination more difficult.
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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.