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Home > Blog > What Attracts Bed Bugs to Your Home and How To Keep Them Out

What Attracts Bed Bugs to Your Home and How To Keep Them Out

Aug 4, 2021

Bed bugs are tiny, ranging about five to seven millimeters in length. They are about the same size and shape as an apple seed. These oval-shaped brown bugs are infamous for biting and causing itchy red bumps on the skin. They can also lead to other undesirable health impacts, such as insomnia and anemia.

It may surprise you to learn that bed bugs aren’t attracted to a dirty home or food waste lying around. Instead, they are out for blood. These pests don’t fly or jump, but they still manage to find their way into countless homes each year. Keep reading to learn what attracts bed bugs to your home and the best methods to keep them out.

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

Even the cleanest homes can have bed bug infestations. You can get bed bugs from just about any public place, including:

  • Offices
  • Daycares
  • Airports
  • Residential homes
  • Nursing homes
  • Libraries
  • Educational institutions
  • Police and fire stations
  • Retail stores
  • Commercial facilities

You may also pick up bed bugs in taxis, trains, cars, buses, and cruise ships, as these opportunistic bugs search for food sources. If they fail to find a food source, they move around until they locate one.

It’s also pretty easy to unknowingly bring bed bugs home with you as they are experts at finding places to hide. When you arrive home from your travels, inspect your clothing for bed bugs and wash everything on high heat. When you stay in hotels, you can also keep your clothing off the floor as an added precaution.

Most of the time, it’s nearly impossible to figure out exactly where you picked up bed bugs. Even if you are aware of the signs and diligently check for them, these tiny pests can hitchhike into your home on any object, person, or pet that enters.

What Attracts Bed Bugs: Myths Debunked

Below are some common thoughts about bed bugs and the explanations as to whether the statements are fact or myth.

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Wood: MYTH

A severe bed bug infestation on a wooden bed frame.

Although the cracks in some wood make good hiding spots for bed bugs, the material itself isn’t especially appealing. Discarding wooden furniture won’t make an infestation any less likely.

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Household Chemicals: MYTH

Bed bugs aren’t attracted to frequently used cleaning products such as:

  • Ammonia
  • Bleach
  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric softeners

Bed bugs do produce a chemical of their own, called histamine, which attracts other bed bugs.

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Period Blood: MYTH

Bed bugs are no more attracted to a person on their period than anybody else. It is body heat and carbon dioxide that draws them in. They have no mechanism for sensing if somebody is on their period. 

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Urine: MYTH

There’s no scientific evidence showing that urine is an attractant. Still, if the urine had the right acidity, it could technically host enough carbon dioxide to interest bed bugs.

Bed Bugs Can’t Be Seen: MYTH

Close up of bed bugs and shed skins.

You can see bed bugs, eggs, and nymphs with the naked eye, but they often hide during the day. You’re more likely to catch them out at night.

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Dark Bed Sheets: FACT

Bed bugs find different colors appealing at various points of their life, though they tend to gather around red and black colored items. They can camouflage in darker colors and gain more protection from predators.

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Dirty Laundry: FACT

Bed bugs are drawn to dirty laundry because it smells like a potential host, so it’s best to keep your clothes off the floor whenever possible.

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Warmth: FACT

Bed bugs know that a heat source is likely to mean a host is nearby. Your body temperature will give you away regardless of your clothing or the temperature of the room.

Bed Bugs Are Attracted to Carbon Dioxide: FACT

Close up of a bed bug on human skin.

Bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide, as it is in the breath of a potential food source. Carbon dioxide serves as a marker that a suitable living host is close at hand.

Ways to Make Bed Bugs Come Out of Hiding

To lure bed bugs out of their hiding spots, you can use a steamer or a hairdryer to heat areas such as mattresses. Neither of these is hot enough to kill the bed bugs, but it can trick them into thinking a human host is near. 

You can also keep an eye out at night to locate their nests when they are most active. Common nesting places include the inside of box springs, inside mattress seams, and crevices in the bed frame.

Bed Bug Prevention: How to Keep Bed Bugs Out

If you want to take steps to keep bed bugs out of your home, there are a few things that you can do. First, before bringing home any second-hand furniture or other objects, inspect them for signs of pests, and clean them thoroughly. If you launder the item, you should do it on the highest heat settings possible on your machine.

Wash guest bedding in hot water, and clean up clutter around your home anywhere that you can. After your children visit their friends’ homes, check their clothing for bed bugs. Wash their clothing on high heat if you find any signs of bed bugs, as soap and warm water aren’t enough to kill these pests.

When traveling, you’ll want to be aware of the signs of bed bugs and inspect seats on public transit. Bed bugs detect body heat and move quickly to find a host, so even a short bus ride is enough of an opportunity for these pests to attach themselves to you.

You can get bed bugs more than once, so it’s best to keep up with these tips consistently to help minimize your chances of future infestations. If you find a single bed bug, you’ll want to vacuum your home every day, paying close attention to the area around the bed and other spots bed bugs might hide, such as baseboards. Also, consider reducing the amount of clutter in your home so there will be fewer places for the bed bugs to hide.

A handheld vacuum cleaner on striped white bedding.

Bed Bug FAQs

If you have more questions about these pesky insects, we have the answers for you below.

Are Bed Bugs Attracted to Certain Blood Types?

The blood in your body accounts for about seven percent of your total weight, and it’s your blood that bed bugs desire. These pests aren’t attracted to certain blood types and you’re an easy target when you sleep, thanks to how much of your skin is exposed.

Bed bugs are more likely to bite you if you don’t lay still while you sleep. A lack of body hair also removes possible obstacles between them and your skin, making it easier for them to feed. 

What Food Attracts Bed Bugs and What Do They Eat?

Bed bugs prefer hosts with a ready supply of fresh blood, and any warm-blooded creature will do. Bed bugs aren’t attracted to food supplies, grime, or crumbs. Even if there’s blood on a surface from meat, bed bugs lack the instinct to eat it.

Do Pets Attract Bed Bugs?

Since pets have readily accessible blood, they are potential hosts to bed bugs. Fortunately, your cat or dog is not the preferred source of blood for this pest, and their food won’t draw bed bugs into your home.

What Scents Attract Bed Bugs?

A blue laundry basket overflowing with clothes.

One scent that bed bugs find appealing is dirty laundry or dirty bedding because of how it smells once it’s come in contact with humans. Research has shown that bed bugs prefer previously worn clothing and used bedding, which is why you shouldn’t leave these items on the floor close to your bed.

These items can attract bed bugs, but so will a laundry hamper full of clothes, as it provides an ideal hiding spot. So the best step is to do your laundry on a regular basis.

What Doesn’t Attract Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs don’t care if your house is dirty or if there’s grime buildup on surfaces. They also aren’t attracted to scented candles or scented cleaning products. Human food doesn’t appeal to bed bugs, and you’ll find that other substances aren’t appealing to them either, such as human waste.

It’s also important to note that blood type doesn’t factor into the bed bugs’ preferences. Other products such as toiletries, perfumes, and room sprays also don’t attract bed bugs.

What to Do When You Have Bed Bugs

If you suspect you have a bed bug infestation, don’t hesitate to call a pest control company for help. Ridding your home or office of bed bugs is a job best left to experienced professionals. Our expert exterminators will carry out a thorough inspection to ensure you get customized treatment.

We look forward to providing the best possible service to get rid of these unwanted insects. Call Romney Pest Control today for a free quote and to schedule an appointment!

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