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What Attracts Bed Bugs?

Nobody likes bed bugs. They’re not a danger to your health per se, but they can definitely ruin a trip or a good night’s sleep. Also, their ugly sight makes every place they’re in look dirty, even when it’s not.

However, you won’t get into this fight without knowing what to do anymore. Bed bugs shouldn’t have any sort of power over you.

Thanks to this article, next time you see these pesky insects, you’ll know what attracts bed bugs, how to trick them into thinking that they’ll feed on you, and how to get rid of them one by one.

The Short Answer

Bed bugs are attracted to body heat, carbon dioxide, and human blood. So while there are places around the house where bed bugs love to hide, these places aren’t their main attraction. To put it simply, they’re attracted to you, a living, breathing human being who exhales carbon dioxide, emits body heat, and has blood that makes up 7% of their body weight.

How Do Bed Bugs Sense Humans?

Have you ever wondered what exactly drives bed bugs to their human hosts? Then, continue reading if you’re interested in knowing the science that makes bed bugs attracted to humans more than anything else.

1. Body Heat

Bed bugs feed on warm-blooded creatures, such as animals and humans. Before you start to worry about your pets, note that bed bugs prefer your blood over your pet’s. So, you’ll find bed bugs in places with heavy traffic, such as houses, retail clothing stores, motels, hotels, movie theaters, and public transportation.

In addition, most bed bug bites happen at night because that’s when the sleeping person is emitting most of the heat. A sleeping host is a never-ending meal for bed bugs, which is what gets them out of their day’s hiding spots.

If you think getting out of the room will get rid of bed bugs, you’d be mistaken. When you get out of the entire room, you’re still bringing your own body heat with you wherever you go. In addition, if you try to change the room’s temperature, your own body temperature still attracts bed bugs. So, there’s no escaping an infestation without a bed bug treatment.

2. Carbon Dioxide

Humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. As it turns out, we emit a lot of that gas when we fall asleep. So the bed bug is intensely drawn to the carbon dioxide that the human host exhales. In fact, carbon dioxide has proven to attract bed bugs even more than warmth in some studies.

However, this love for the air we exhale makes pest control even easier because that helps you stay ahead of that pesky bed bug. According to a study published by the Journal of Pest Science, if you sprinkle diatomaceous earth in the room while luring them out with active monitors that emit CO2, bed bugs will happily walk into their demise.

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How Far Can Bed Bugs Detect Carbon Dioxide?

Bed bugs typically detect CO2 from their sleeping host from about three feet away. So, if there are bed bugs in the same room as you, chances are they’ve already detected you from the gas that you exhale as you breathe at night.

3. Blood

It comes as no surprise that bed bugs are attracted to the thing that they feed on. These blood-sucking insects survive solely on blood meals, in contrast to other blood-sucking insects, such as mosquitos, which find other things to eat besides blood.

You’re not the first to wonder, “What makes bed bugs attracted to human blood?” They even prefer it to animals, meaning that your pet is at less risk if you’re around as the bed bug will feed on you instead.

Simply put, blood makes up around 7% of our body weight as humans. Your body is huge, while bed bugs are tiny. So, there’s too much food for other bed bugs to resist. Yes, bed bugs communicate with other bed bugs when they find their sleeping victim.

There isn’t much that you can do about yourself to make these pesky insects like you less. The only thing you can do is keep yourself clean and groomed, which won’t prevent an infestation but will make it easier to spot the next time it happens.

Debunking Bed Bug Attraction Myths

Since most people are discussing how to prevent a bed bug infestation in the first place, many myths about what attracts bed bugs spread like wildfire without any research backing them up, so here are the most common things that people falsely believe attract bed bugs.

Blood Types

Many people who have fallen victim to bed bug bites probably believe that their blood type is to blame, which has led to the spread of the myth that bed bugs are attracted to certain blood types.

However, there’s no research to support that claim. So while you may be the one person in the room who feels the itching of a bug bite or even sees a mark, there’s still a pretty good chance that you’re not the only one who’s been bitten.

Since plenty of people don’t even react to bug bites, your skin could be more sensitive to the bite, that’s all. So now, give your innocent blood type a break. However, if you experience a severe allergic reaction, it’s time to call a health care professional.

Food

You’ve probably heard by now that food attracts bed bugs, which encouraged you not to leave food unattended. While leaving food out in the open attracts plenty of insects, rodents, and more, it’s not the culprit for the latest bed bug infestation that you’ve encountered. Bed bugs feed on blood, meaning that your snacks and takeaways are nothing to them.

So, continue putting your leftovers away to keep your house clean, but know that forgetting to do so will not result in a bed bug problem.

Dirt and Grime

Another common misconception about what attracts bed bugs is cleanliness. Most people believe that bed bugs, like other insects, are attracted to humans with poor hygiene or unsanitary places.

However, bed bugs don’t discriminate, which is why you’ll find them at the dirtiest and cleanest hotels and houses. That being said, an environment packed with clutter provides bed bugs with plenty of hiding places.

So, get rid of clutter and clean your place regularly to spot and treat infestations as early as possible. Also, prepare your mattress for battle by getting bed bug-proof mattress covers.

In addition, your personal hygiene won’t make bed bugs like you anymore or less than they already do. As long as you’re a living, breathing human being, you already have what bed bugs want: blood, body heat, and carbon dioxide. But, of course, you’re more vulnerable to their bites when you’re sleeping because you’re not moving much.

Scented Products

Many people overthink what kind of scents bed bugs love or hate. Unfortunately, this hyperfocus on scents led some to assume that certain scented products, such as perfumes, scented candles, cleaning chemicals, and fabric softeners, are responsible for large infestations.

Rest assured that there’s no science to back this up. Bed bugs live to feed on blood, as grim as it sounds.  In other words, they couldn’t care less about any scented distractions you have at home. So, if you want to spray your favorite perfume or light your scented candles to wind down, by all means, do it.

What Draws Bed Bugs Out of Hiding?

Now that you understand what attracts bed bugs and what doesn’t, it’s time to know how to get them out of their hiding places once you realize there’s a bed bug infestation.

Typically, you’ll use something we call active monitors. They’re active traps that mimic the things that bed bugs like in their human hosts. You strategically place them around the room near the bed frame, bed legs, and dark corners while bed bugs hide. Then, watch as bed bugs come out from their safe locations one by one, thinking that they’ll feed on their next blood meal.

Heat

Since bed bugs are after warm-blooded creatures like yourself, but you don’t want to become their next blood meal, it’s time to find something else that can imitate your heat. Fortunately, pest control has developed over the years. There are bed bug traps that attract bed bugs with light and warmth then trap them with glue, which is a toxin-free way to kill them.

Remember that these traps don’t kill bed bugs on a scale that eliminates an entire infestation in one go. However, they’re a good enough bed bug treatment that attracts bed bugs as much as possible for you to eliminate them easily.

Carbon Dioxide

You’ve probably wondered at some point while reading the article, “Do CO2 traps work for bed bugs?” Let us assure you that you’re not the only one who considered using the chemicals that we exhale to catch bed bugs.

Many traps lure in bed bugs with almost everything they’re attracted to, such as heat, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals that attract these blood-sucking insects. This combination of baits that mimic humans in every way is your best bet at luring bed bugs out of these dark places.

How Can I Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast?

The fastest way to get rid of bed bugs is pest control.

Since you’re dealing with insects, spray insecticides are a good place to start. However, there are three downsides to spray insecticides.

Firstly, some bed bugs are resistant to some of their active ingredients. Secondly, chemical insecticides may be harmful to you and your pets in the long run, especially if they remain active for a long time. Finally, insecticides affect the bed bugs that you spray directly, meaning that you’ll need something else for the bed bugs that managed to hide from you.

Enter diatomaceous earth. It’s a powder that’s made to target bed bugs that thought they were safe from you by hiding in windowsills, door jams, box springs, corners, and crevices. It slowly dehydrates and penetrates bed bugs without making the area unsafe for you, making it a great step in pest control.

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Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of what attracts bed bugs, what doesn’t, and how to treat infestations.

As you can see, bed bugs are attracted to your warmth, the air you exhale, and your blood, meaning that you can’t really distract them from the things that make you alive.

So, please don’t waste time worrying about ridiculous things that don’t affect them, such as room sanitation, human food, scented household products, and blood types. Instead, focus on how to eradicate these creatures. For example, you can use traps or active monitors that mimic your body to get bed bugs out of hiding or apply different treatments, such as chemical spray and dust.

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-much-blood-in-human-body

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10340-016-0784-1

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19736771/

https://www.pctonline.com/article/pct1002_bedbugs/