What Attracts Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human and animal blood. They are relatively common uninvited guests in our households and can be a real nuisance to get rid of. But exactly what attracts bed bugs to our homes in the first place? There are a number of myths – and several truths – about what bed bugs are attracted to, and we’re here to give you the right answers!
What Are Bed Bugs and How to Recognize Them
Bed bugs are insects about the size of an apple seed that feed on blood. They are oval and their color ranges from brown to red, depending on how full they are. Their size also slightly fluctuates depending on how much time has passed since the last time they ate.
Bedbugs are pretty fast on the ground, although they can’t fly. They tend to latch on to things – clothes, bags, shoes – which is how they spread around quickly and easily. What’s more, the average female will lay hundreds of eggs during her life. It’s really no wonder they are everywhere!
The Bite of a Bed Bug
If you have been bitten by a bed bug, you will likely notice a small red bump that feels itchy or slightly painful. They go away on their own in about the same time as mosquito bites do and don’t require any special treatment. However, if the irritation is too much to handle, consider trying an anti-itch cream.
What Attracts Bed Bugs?
Now that you know how to recognize bed bugs if you ever encounter them, it’s time to take a look at what it is exactly that attracts them to our homes.
Are Bed Bugs Attracted to Dirty Places?
Despite this popular belief, bed bugs don’t really care about how clean or dirty a place is. They aren’t attracted to leftover food, dust, or grime. However, cluttered spaces give them more spots to hide, which is why they are more commonly found in untidy homes. If you’re suspecting you have bed bugs, check the following areas:
- Hard-to-reach corners and areas, such as behind or under furniture
- Areas you don’t use or clean often, such as high shelves
- Bed linen – if you have bed bugs, your sheets will likely have small red or brown spots from blood and bug feces
- Small crevices, such as electrical outlets, loose wallpaper, and dents and tears on furniture
Do Dark Places Attract Bed Bugs?
Since bed bugs are mainly nocturnal insects, people tend to believe that they are scared of light. However, while bed bugs do prefer nighttime, they will not stay in hiding just because you left the light on overnight. They often even feed during the day, especially if that is when the people they feed on sleep. Another thing that could cause them to feed during the day is over-infestation.
In short: yes, they prefer darkness, but keeping the light on is not an effective method of exterminating bed bugs.
Are Bed Bugs Attracted to People and Pets?
Much like most other animals, bed bugs are attracted to what they eat. In short, they will go anywhere where they can sense blood, warmth, and carbon dioxide. One thing that all of these have in common is – warm-blooded beings. Our bodies constantly emit energy in the form of heat, and we exhale carbon monoxide. So if you’re wondering what has attracted bed bugs to your home, the right answer might simply be – you.
How Do Bed Bugs Get Into a Home?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, these insects tend to latch onto things, people, and animals, and travel that way. They are most common in places where there are a lot of people. For example, this includes:
- Airports and airplanes
- Subways, trains, and buses
- Hotels, hostels, and other accommodation
- Hospitals and nursing homes
- Schools and daycare centers
It is also very common for people to get bed bugs from guests they have invited over, as well as from pets, especially dogs and outdoor cats. Buying second-hand furniture and clothes could pose another hazard.
How Do I Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
If you’ve discovered that your home is infested, it’s important to act right away. Keep in mind that this will be a long and frustrating process, and you might even have to do it several times – bed bugs can be quite stubborn. Here are a few simple steps you should take:
- Discover where the bed bugs are hiding – check all corners and crevices you can think of
- Vacuum the infested areas – and dispose of the vacuum bag right away
- Wash and dry all fabric – including bed linen, clothes, pillowcases, and more at the highest temperature setting
- Disinfect the furniture – use a steamer to kill any remaining bed bugs on your furniture
- Things that can’t be washed should be bagged up and exposed to high temperatures for at least a few weeks or simply thrown away
- Use an insecticide of choice – to make sure there are no remaining bugs in your home, choose a chemical or natural insecticide
- Damage control – check all infested areas regularly in the following several months and repeat the process if necessary
- Prevention – make it a habit to regularly clean all critical areas in your home and seal all crevices, fill any holes in walls and furniture, tighten loose electrical outlets, and glue or get rid of loose wallpaper.
Of course, if you would rather skip all this, you can always hire professional exterminators to get rid of the bed bugs for you.
Bed Bugs Don’t Have to Be a Nuisance
Now that you know all about bed bugs – what they look like, what they eat, and what they’re attracted to – it should be much easier to figure out how to kill them. Simply follow our steps to get rid of bed bugs and prevent their return, and we’re sure you won’t have any issues. And if they prove to be a little more stubborn, remember that you can always turn to professional exterminators for help!
Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively.