What Attracts Bed Bugs to You, Your Bed and Home?

what attracts bed bugs to you and your home
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What Attracts Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are one of the most feared and increasingly difficult household pests to eradicate. The number one defense mechanism of bed bugs is their skillful ability to hide and unlike common household infestations such as flies and mice – it takes patience and precision to win the war against them.

With the right bed bug products and adherence to preparation and an understanding of their habits, you can rid your home of these irritating parasites and gain a better understanding of what attracts bed bugs.

What attracts bed bugs to you, your bed and home? Bed bugs are attracted to their main host – humans. They are attracted to body warmth and exhalation in the form of carbon dioxide – which they seek out through their antennae. 

Because bed bugs are primarily nocturnal, their preferred structure is the bed, where movement and detection are minimal when we sleep. The insects survive on human blood, which they retract from their host through a dagger-shaped proboscis when the host is asleep.

Due to humans primarily living indoors, bed bugs are skilled hitchhikers and frequent dwellings where human activity is most prevalent–such as public transportation, movie theaters, restaurants, and doctor offices which allow for people to be seated for long periods of time. Unknowingly, this is how bed bugs make it to your homes.

By knowing what attracts bed bugs, you can begin to understand the motivations and behavior of these elusive parasites. Knowing what attracts the insects is only the beginning in winning a war against them when your home becomes infested. To eliminate them, you must understand the relationship between bed bugs, yourself and family members, and how and why they hide in the tiniest and most narrow places.

how to identify bed bug infestations

How to Identify Bed Bug Infestations?

You could go several weeks or even months before ever knowing that you have bed bugs. It is an eerie thought to know that you have been feasted upon by parasitic insects on a nightly basis and easily mistake the red welts on your arms, neck, and face for gnat and mosquito bites. It is important to know the warning signs of bed bugs and how to detect them. If you do not visually see one, you may be able to tell if you see dark stains on your bed sheets.
bed bug stains on mattress

When bed bugs feed on your blood for five to seven minutes, they crawl away back to their hiding spot and defecate their meal along your pillowcases and bed sheets. If you spot dime-shaped dark spots on your bedding, this is a clear sign of bed bugs in the bed and surrounding areas. As disturbing as it sounds, most people usually discover bed bugs by accident–but there are ways to inspect your home just to be sure.

Bed bugs survive by hiding and due to their incredibly narrow width, they can slip into cracks and crevices no thicker than the width of a credit card. They cannot fly or jump, so they will crawl around and look for narrow crevices within close proximity to where you sleep or sit. They are attracted to your warmth and Co2 emissions and will prefer to nest where they can easily hide and not travel far to access you. They do not require water, as human blood provides all the nourishment they need, so you will not likely find them near the bathroom or kitchen like other insects.

The first place to look is without a doubt your bed. Lifting up the mattress will usually provide you all the evidence you need. Additionally, bed bugs can infest sheets, pillowcases, and pillows, as well as the seams and corners of the mattress. If your bed has a box spring, that area is ground zero for bed bugs due to its many corners, obstructions, and dark areas to mask easy detection. Although the first point of detection will usually be your bed, there are several other places you may find bed bugs–especially when you begin to go to war with them.

Dressers, night tables, any wood structures, even alarm clocks have been known to house bed bugs. Although their name is identified with beds, these vampiric insects could just as easily be called couch bugs, alarm clock bugs, wall bugs, carpet bugs, chair bugs, and even stuffed-animal bugs. They will infest anything that allows them to hide easily and the places to look outside of your bed and furniture would be any cloth-based material such as curtains, baseboards and any cracks surrounding them and your headboard and bed frame.

bed bugs on clothes

How Did Bed Bugs Get Into My Home?

Unlike cockroaches and flies, bed bugs have nothing at all to do with how clean a dwelling is or isn’t. Their entire existence is based on traveling, which is how they are transported from one dwelling to the next. After a dwelling or structure is infested, bed bugs will latch onto luggage, bags, shoes, socks, coats, pants, shirts, and even purses to get from one destination to the next. They cannot survive in the wild for very long, so they base their existence around their host–people. They are skilled climbers and hiding in clothes is one of their favorite traveling spots.

If you had an out-of-town guest staying over, it is possible they could have inadvertently brought them into your home via their luggage or clothing from an airport or bus terminal. If you have recently purchased furniture–either second-hand or even new in some cases–the bugs could very well have found an easy entry to their new home. If you have recently returned from a vacation or a stay in a hotel, bed bugs could easily have followed you home.

Exactly narrowing down how the bugs got into your home can be frustrating, but sometimes it could be essential in winning the war against them. If you live in an apartment or condo, there is a distinct possibility that the units next to and under and above you could be infested and the bugs are traveling to seek out new hosts. The possibilities of how they got in are numerous and can become psychologically debilitating, therefore, sticking to the main causes–guests, public places that require sitting, and second-hand furniture–can give you peace of mind in being sure that you inspect these circumstances in the future.

bed bugs attracted to your blood

What Do Bed Bugs Want From Me?

The short answer – your blood. Like a mosquito without wings, bed bugs cannot survive or reproduce without human blood. With this in mind, there are evolutionary mechanisms that the bed bug has produced that allow it to sustain itself. In extreme circumstances, bed bugs can live up to a year without food which was likely developed during the years of DDT usage in the mid-twentieth century – which nearly eradicated them completely.

Their ability to avoid detection is their weapon against being destroyed. They cannot survive without blood, so they are human beings own personal remora fish – although the relationship is far from mutual. Due to this, bed bugs will go to great lengths to hide from you and only emerge when you are completely still and preferably sleeping. Since they cannot fly or jump away like mosquitoes and fleas, they will usually only emerge in the shadows during sleep due to the risk of being detected.

If you are unsure if you have bed bugs and cannot detect them by sight, you can use yourself as bait to once and for all confirm the worst. Bed bugs will usually feed in the dead of night between the hours of two and six AM. Set an alarm for these hours and keep a flashlight by your bed. Upon waking, immediately shine the light on your mattress, pillows, your body, and the headboard. If you see them, take comfort in the fact that now you are ready to begin your fight in eliminating them from your home.

how to get bed bugs out of your bed

How Do I Get Bed Bugs Out of My Bed?

Bed bugs got their name for a reason – they are attracted to and prefer to infest beds. Your bed is where you spend eight to ten hours each night and you are usually completely still during sleep. Unlike couches and chairs, the bed is primarily for one purpose – to sleep, and this is much better for the bugs due to the unconsciousness of their host. If you have found bed bugs in your bed, there are a comprehensive list of steps you can take to get them out and keep them out of your most essential piece of furniture.

Upon discovery of the bugs in your bed, contacting a pest control company is a safe bet, just be sure that they specialize in bed bug treatment. However, there are many things that you can do all by yourself to get them out of your bed and keep them out. You must also be aware that more bugs could be in other parts of your bedroom and even your living room.

  • Strip all of your bedding
Strip all of your bedding off of the bed and immediately seal the bedding in a contractor bag. Take the contents immediately to the washer and wash and then dry on the highest heat setting. Make sure to seal them in a fresh bag after laundering.
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  • Purchase high-quality mattress encasements
Purchase high-quality mattress and box spring encasements that are the proper length and width of your bed. Quality encasements will starve the bugs to death and they will not be able to escape or pierce through the material. Be sure and leave encasements on for twelve to sixteen months to be sure the bugs are dead.
Encase the mattress and box spring slowly and be sure to kill any bugs that fall off with a powerful contact-kill insecticide formulated for bed bugs. Alternatively, you can also vacuum up the stray bugs–just be sure to immediately dispose of the bag in an outside trash receptacle and wash the container if your vacuum has one.
  • Replace your headboard
If your headboard and/or bed frame is made of wood, you may want to look into replacing them as bed bugs usually infest wood. If disposal is not an option, you can treat the structures with Nuvan pest control strips in an enclosed, separate structure such as a shed for 14 days.
  • Place bed bug traps under your bed legs
Remember that bed bugs can only climb and crawl, and any bugs in other parts of the dwelling will seek out your warmth and Co2, so you will want to place bed bug traps under your bed legs such as sticky traps or even a plastic container with soapy water.
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  • Move your bed away from the wall
Move the bed at least three feet from the wall to prevent the bugs from falling into the bed from the wall or any furniture which is close to your bed.
  • Stop bedding from touching the floor
Place your freshly laundered bedding and be sure to always keep the bedding from ever touching the floor, which will create a climbing bridge for the bugs from the floor. Completely clear everything out from under the bed to also prevent climbing bridges.

With these steps, you can both eliminate bed bugs in the bed and keep them from getting in it. Bed bugs are attracted to beds because that is where feasting on blood is the easiest, so this should be your first battleground for eliminating them. You are now ready to address and safeguard the rest of your home.

What Attracts Bed Bugs to the Rest of My Home?

The problematic trait that comes with bed bugs is that it can become difficult to know if you have an early or large infestation. Victims can become overwhelmed once they learn the patterns of the insects and addressing a bed bug problem can become a psychological trauma that bed bug survivors will never forget.

Due to their small and narrow size and their ability to hide with surgical precision, nearly everything inside of your home becomes a potential harborage for bed bugs. This is a devastating prospect and will require a lot of hard work to complete, but once you have examined and ruled out every item, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Check everything within your bedroom – including the closet. Bag all clothing and fabric including stuffed animals and curtains in durable contractor bags and launder in hot temperatures and keep them sealed in fresh bags until you have eliminated the problem.

Heat of at least one-hundred and twenty degrees Fahrenheit will kill bed bugs and their eggs. If you have carpet, vacuum at least once a day and dispose of the contents in an outside receptacle. You are now ready to check your furniture and baseboards.

With a strong flashlight or UV bed bug black light, inspect all drawers, corners, crevices, and contents for bugs. You may also find it helpful to place all contents of drawers and miscellaneous items in sealed contractor bags with a poison strip for at least fourteen days to be sure any eggs have hatched and subsequently died. Humans are primarily what attracts bed bugs, so anywhere that you frequent the most in your home must be thoroughly inspected and treated.

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Be sure and inspect and treat with a strong insecticide with residual all pieces of furniture in your home and pay particular attention to seams and underneath the furniture. Pull back any carpet and inspect with a flashlight and treat the gap where the wall meets the floor. With thorough inspections and treatment with either insecticide, heat, or dust such as diatomaceous earth or cimexa powder, you will be well on your way to eliminating bed bugs from your home.

what attracts bed bugs to bite you

What Attracts Bed Bugs To Bite You?

Bed bugs have terrible eyesight, but they can smell you and they can sense heat. When you are asleep at night, you are usually the warmest object in the room. Furniture and other objects are usually between 68 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Your core body temperature is 98.6 degrees (or higher if you are running a fever) and your skin temperature is typically 91 degrees.

They also are attracted to carbon dioxide. This is the gas we breath out. When we sleep at night, the largest concentration of carbon dioxide in the room is above the bed near the face or faces of any sleeping occupants.

There is some evidence that they may prefer certain blood types over others. This doesn’t mean that if you have the “wrong” blood type, they won’t bite you at all. But it may serve to explain why two people sleeping in the same bed may have very different outcomes, with one getting covered in many bites and the other being seemingly left alone.

However, things are not always as they seem. It can also be the case that one person reacts very badly to the bites and gets a terrible rash and the other person reacts not at all. So it’s possible both people are getting bit, but only one really notices the bites.

They can also be attracted to kairomones. These include octenol, lactic acid, and other organic acids that humans give off when they breath or sweat. Bed bugs look for bare skin. They aren’t too crazy about being trapped in clothing and they don’t much like hair. So hairy parts of the body tend to get few to no bites while relatively hairless parts of the body tend to get more. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great idea to try to cover up completely in long pajamas. That may just encourage them to bite your face. You might decide that bites on the arm or leg are less awful.

Of course, if you discover you have bed bugs, you need to try to eradicate them, not just try to live with them. Although historically they were not deemed to be a serious health hazard because they weren’t believed to carry and spread serious diseases, a relatively recent study found that they can potentially carry Chagas Disease, the same deadly parasite carried by their cousin the kissing bug, so called because it tends to bite on the face near the mouth.

bed bugs in hotel rooms

What Attracts Bed Bugs To Hotel Rooms?

As stated above, bed bugs are basically looking for sleeping bodies. So, generally speaking, they are looking for beds in bedrooms. Hotels are another place where you find beds filled with sleeping bodies. That’s the main reason you find bed bugs in hotels sometimes.

However, hotel rooms can be a place where bed bug infestations are particularly pernicious. They may go unnoticed and untreated for much longer periods of time than is typical in a personal residence.

The rash can take a day or longer to appear, so a traveler that spends a single night in a hotel may be long gone by the time they realize something bit them. They may have no idea what bit them. In most cases, the rash is a short-lived annoyance that goes away on its own without any kind of medical treatment.

Some people never develop a rash. People who are disinclined to get a rash may still notice signs of bed bug infestations in their own home, but may not notice it in hotel. They may be exhausted and they may be there only one night and so forth. There are lots of contributing factors that make it less likely that a person staying overnight in a hotel will even notice that there are bed bugs.

Even if they do notice, staff might not really believe them. Worse, staff might not really care. Since bed bugs are generally seen as annoying, but are mostly not thought of as a serious public health threat, if the hotel isn’t very profitable, they may feel that ignoring the problem makes the most financial sense for them. Bed bugs can be challenging to truly eradicate from an area.

Even if they do successfully eradicate them, the hotel may not remain free of bed bugs for very long. Because they can be found in transit centers or anyplace else you get a large group of people and they like to hitch rides, the high number of people passing through a hotel can just bring more bed bugs. Hotels also tend to be in relatively busy areas. They are frequently very close to the highway and not far from high traffic establishments, such as gas stations and convenience stores. Such amenities serve the needs of their clients well. But these crowded, busy spaces can also be another source of bed bugs.

Certain kinds of essential oils sometimes help discourage bed bugs from biting. If you know you are going to be sleeping in something of a dive of a hotel, you might look into that and consider taking some along to try to protect yourself for one night.Though, honestly, high end hotels aren’t immune. These nasty beasts are happy to go wherever there are beds full of sleeping bodies so they can get their fill of blood. You cannot stop breathing and you cannot stop being warm. These are the two primary ways that bed bugs find their targets. If there are bed bugs, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to stop them from finding you.

They are geared towards sensing a living, breathing, warm body, preferably one that’s not too aware and not too active. That’s basically you when you go to sleep at night, to some degree or another.

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In Summary

Bed bugs are attracted to humans. People are their food source and also live in spaces that support their desire to hide from detection and provide safe, dark spaces for reproduction. Bed bugs have limited visibility, so they seek you out through sensors in their antennae that look for body warmth and carbon dioxide in your exhalation. Human blood is what sustains them and they cannot live or reproduce without it.

The bed is the hotspot for bed bug activity as it provides a safe and easily undetectable home with a food source that it feeds on while the source is sleeping, with anesthetic fluids injected into the host to render the skin numb to prevent detection from the host. Bed bugs in the bed are the primary harborage areas, but they can also be attracted to other parts of the home–especially when treatment methods begin.

Your home becomes the bed bug’s home. They will seek out a blood meal whenever the opportunity arises, usually when the host is still and/or sleeping. By knowing what attracts bed bugs and what their behavior patterns are, a victim of bed bug infestation will have the necessary knowledge to begin the process of elimination and become completely free of bed bugs.

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