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What Attracts Bed Bugs?

transparent-bed-bugsUnfortunately for many, bed bugs are found throughout the world and have become increasingly abundant in recent years, particularly in North America, Europe and Australia, striking all types of residences including homes, hotels, apartments, shelters and even cruise ships. Luckily, understanding why they live in your home may help you to get rid of them more quickly.


Bed bugs are small, oval and wingless insects that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals. For this reason, bed bugs are attracted to body heat and to the carbon dioxide in our breath. Adult bed bugs reach 1/4 of an inch in length, while their color ranges from light tan to deep brown. Because of their flat bodies, bed bugs are sometimes mistaken for small cockroaches, ticks or humidity bugs.


Bed bugs typically reside in areas where people sleep and concentrate near beds, in mattresses, bed frames and box springs. Other places that bed bugs seem to like are dresser corners, curtains and cracks in wallpaper near the bed. However, bed bugs can also live in other areas of the home such as in small cracks and crevices in furniture, textiles and any type of upholstered furniture.


The first sign of your home being infested by bed bugs is the presence of itchy inflammation reactions or reddened spots on your skin. Because the bed bugs’ saliva contains both an anesthetic substance and anticoagulant proteins, their bites are undetectable until you discover their effects a few hours later. Another sign of a bed bug infestation is the presence of dark fecal spots, eggs or scale skins in or around the bed. Sometimes, a coriander-like smell can be detected, but only in heavily infested homes.


In order to get rid of a bed bug infestation, it is important to thoroughly examine the bedroom or other infested areas for any signs of bed bugs. A great variety of bed bug sprays, dusts and aerosol insecticides exist and can be applied to all suspected areas, including carpets, walls and mattresses. Dismantling bed frames and furniture, filling cracks in floors and walls and encasing mattresses with special bags can also help in controlling bed bugs. Washing your sheets, covers and clothes in hot water is another useful tip. In extreme cases, pest-control experts may be needed to treat infested areas.


A common misconception is that bed bugs are a sign of a dirty home. However, bed bugs can be found everywhere regardless of the home’s cleanliness or the hotel’s number of stars. The reason for this is that bed bugs can be transported in luggage, clothes and other items moved from an infected area to a bed bug-free environment. Thus, a good way to avoid bed bug infestation is to make sure that no bed bugs or eggs were transported into your home if bed bug signs were observed during trips or visits. Washing clothes and spraying luggage is a good way to avoid transporting these unwanted visitors into your home.

What are Bed Bugs?

bedbugBed bugs are parasitic insects of the cimicid family that feed exclusively on blood. The term most commonly refers to members of the genus Cimex of which Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug, is the best known as it prefers to feed on human blood although other Cimex species are specialized to other animals, e.g., bat bugs, C. pipistrelli (Europe), C. pilosellus (western US), and C. adjunctus (entire eastern US).

The name of the “bed bug” is derived from the preferred habitat of Cimex lectularius: warm houses and especially nearby or inside of beds and bedding or other sleep areas. Bed bugs are mainly active at night, but are not exclusively nocturnal. They usually feed on their hosts without being noticed.

A number of adverse health effects may result from bed bug bites, including skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. Diagnosis involves both finding bed bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms.

Bed bugs have been known as human parasites for thousands of years. At a point in the early 1940s, they were mostly eradicated in the developed world, but have increased in prevalence since 1995. Because infestation of human habitats has been on the increase, bed bug bites and related conditions have been on the rise as well.

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 should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard. 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.

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.