Pest Resources

What Attracts Bed Bugs? ​


Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They are relatively common uninvited guests in our households and can be a real nuisance to get rid of. But exactly what attracts the blood-sucking 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!

Let’s get started!

What Are Bed Bugs and How to Recognize Them

Bed bugs are insects visible to the naked eye, and adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed. Bed bugs feed on the blood of warm-blooded creatures.

These blood suckers are oval, and their color ranges from brown to red, depending on how full of blood they are.

Their size also slightly fluctuates depending on how much time has passed since the last time they ate. 



Bed bugs are pretty fast on the ground, although they can’t fly. Bed bugs tend to latch on to things – clothes, bags, shoes – which is how bed bugs 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!

What food attracts bed bugs?

Bed bugs only need one food source. Bed bugs eat as a food source, the blood from warm-blooded animals and humans, and the human population offers an unlimited blood meal.

Female bed bugs need a blood meal before they can begin producing eggs.

When bed bugs bite, they inject an anti-coagulant and anesthetic so you do not feel the bed bug bite, and the blood flows freely, meaning the bed bugs feed undisturbed.

Do bed bugs prefer certain blood types?

Bed bugs are not fussy about the blood type of a human host. There is not any credible scientific evidence to say that your blood type affects your chances of you being bitten by bed bugs.

Bed bugs are not attracted to any particular blood type. Bed bugs are attracted to warm beds, carbon dioxide, and the body heat from a host; you are an easy target for a bedbug.

Are bed bugs attracted to period blood?

This is a myth; You are not at a greater risk of being bitten by bed bugs during your period. Bed bugs do not have any senses to detect period blood. Bed bugs are attracted to the body heat and carbon dioxide of a human host.

The Bite of a Bed Bug

You are more likely to be bitten by bed bugs if you lay still when you sleep. Sleeping with clothing on to reduce the amount of skin exposed will minimize the amount of bed bug bites, as well as having extra body hair.

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 at about the same time as mosquito bites do and don’t require any special treatment.

Bed bugs do not carry disease and do not transmit disease. However, a bite can cause a problem if you have broken skin, and if the irritation is excessive, you could have an infection; consider trying an anti-itch cream or seek medical attention.

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 exactly attracts them to our homes. 

Are Bed Bugs Attracted to Dirty Places?

Despite this popular belief, bed bugs are not only attracted to a dirty home. Bed bugs don’t really care about how clean or dirty a place is.

Bed bugs aren’t attracted to leftover food, dust, or grime like some insects. However, bed bugs love cluttered spaces. It gives them more hiding spots, which is why they are more commonly found in untidy homes. If you suspect 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 bed bug feces

  • Small crevices, such as electrical outlets, loose wallpaper, and dents and tears on furniture

  • The mattress will provide a hiding place for bed bugs; look carefully in the seams and folds of your mattress

  • Bed frames and box springs can harbor bed bugs. Look carefully for signs of bed bugs inside them

Do Dark Places Attract Bed Bugs?

Since bed bugs are mainly nocturnal insects, people tend to believe that bed bugs are scared of light. However, while bed bugs do prefer nighttime, a bed bug will not stay in hiding just because you left the light on overnight.

Bed bugs will 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. Research has found that bed bugs do prefer dark bed sheets!

Are Bed Bugs Attracted to People and Pets?

Much like most other animals, bed bugs are attracted to what they eat. In short, what attracts bed bugs is 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 dioxide. So if you’re wondering what has attracted bed bugs to your home, the right answer might be – YOU. 

What Attracts Bed bugs to Wooden Furniture?

This is a myth; you might notice a collection of bed bugs in the cracks of wood and wooden furniture. The bed bugs are not attracted to the wood; they collect there because it makes good hiding places before their next meal!

Are Bed bugs Attracted to Household Chemicals?

This is a myth; household chemicals neither lure bed bugs nor deter bed bugs. Bed bugs prefer their own chemical, Histamine, which they produce to attract other bed bugs.

What Scent will Attract Bed bugs?

These pests are attracted to the scent of dirty clothes and dirty bedding. This is because they have come into contact with human scent. A full laundry hamper will give hiding spots to them; try to keep it to a minimum.

How Do Bed Bugs Get Into a Home?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, bedbugs like to latch onto things, people, and animals and travel that way. They are most common in places where there are a lot of people. There is an increased risk of bed bugs in the following places:



  • Airports and airplanes

  • Public transportation like subways, trains, buses, and cabs

  • Hotels, hostels, and other public accommodation

  • Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Police and fire stations

  • Schools and daycare centers

  • The movie theater

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 potential bed bug infestation. 

How Do I Get Rid of a bed bug infestation?

If you find bed bugs in your home, 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 – Dirty laundry, including bedding, clothes, pillowcases, and dirty clothes, in hot water and dry at the highest temperature setting the items can tolerate

  • 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 or freezing temperatures for at least a few weeks or thrown away.

  • Use an insecticide of choice – to make sure there are no remaining bed bugs in your home, choose a chemical or natural insecticide.

  • Damage control – check all previously infested areas regularly in the following 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.

How Can I Prevent Bed bug infestations?

Wash dirty laundry regularly to kill bed bugs, and store dirty laundry in a sealed plastic bag. If you use a shared laundry facility, place freshly laundered clothing straight in a bag and fold it when you get home. This will prevent bed bugs from getting into your clothing and home. Wash guest bedding in the same way as your own.

Use light-colored bedding; darker colors offer bed bugs protection. Light-colored bedding will also show up signs of bed bugs, like feces, bed bug shells, and blood stains.

It is easy to bring bed bugs home. When you arrive on vacation, give your room a thorough inspection. Check the bed frame, box spring, mattress, and bedding for signs of a bed bug infestation.

When you are home, place your luggage in the basement or garage, not on your bedding, and launder and dry all clothing on high heat as soon as possible.

If you have experienced bed bugs in a hotel, be sure to let the management know about it!

If you have some used furniture to bring into the home, the best bed bug prevention we recommended is you carefully inspect it for bed bugs and treat it with a pesticide.

De-clutter your home. Remove and recycle newspapers and magazines, empty boxes, and packaging. Do not store items under the bed frame. If you are short of space, store the items in plastic bags. Bed bugs find plastic difficult to crawl on.

Purchase a mattress encasement. An encasement will protect the mattress against new bed bug infestations. It will stop a present infestation of bed bugs from hiding in the seams of the mattress. You can purchase a mattress encasement for around $20.

Bed bugs can survive for a year without a blood meal. Ideally, leave the encasement on for 12 to 18 months. This will ensure all the bed bugs, nymphs, and eggs have died.

Bed Bugs Don’t Have to Be a Nuisance

Now that you know all about what attracts bed bugs – what they look like and what bed bugs eat – it should be much easier to figure out how to get rid of 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 a professional treatment by qualified exterminators for help! ……… Sleep tight!

Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each control method, product and process to prevent infestations effectively. 

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