Are bed bugs biting you?
Bed bug bites are different from many other insect bites. They look the same as other bites, or a rash, but there is one very important difference. Other bugs bite you once, bed bugs come back over and over. At first you may only notice bites every few days, then more frequently, then every day. That is because new bed bugs are being hatched, and when they hatch they are HUNGRY. That is the reason I suggest you mark your bites with a permanent marker so you can see if new bites appear.
Keep in mind if you have not actually captured a bug or observed one, you don’t know if you really have bed bug bites, or a rash, allergic reaction or other insect problem.
Bed bugs can bite anywhere, but more frequently will bite on exposed areas of your skin instead of under blankets or clothing. I’m not saying the would never bite under blankets or clothing, only that instinctually, they seem to go for exposed areas like feet, legs, face, hands, neck. I believe without any science to back me up, that they do that to avoid being smashed after feeding when their bodies are full of your blood and stretched thin, so they are more vulnerable. Just a theory born from experience.
Steps you can take if you have mystery bites
- Clean all around and under your bed thoroughly. Leave nothing under the bed. Inspect everything and put in a plastic tub or big trash bag temporarily (Isolate everything that was under the bed or on the floor.
- Launder all your bedding (that won’t be damaged) in the dryer for a couple hours so you know it got good and hot. Pillows too if you can and they won’t be damaged.
- Vacuum around and under your bed.
There is a possibility that whatever bit you got lost in your blankets or pillow case and you can end it right there with heat and a vacuum. * High heat or dryer heat can damage some fabrics, blankets, pillows or down comforters.
- When I put my bed back together nothing touches the floors or walls.
- Get a sharpie and put dots where the bites are so I can tell if you get new bites in 3-7 days.
- Now wait and try not to fret or worry about it. More bites in a few days, then you should isolate your bed with climb-up monitors and try to catch whatever’s biting me there.
- If the bites are in the pattern and I get more, I’m having a dog and handler come and inspect as soon as possible since if it is bed bugs, and it’s a fertile female biting me, she’s laying eggs and they’re hatching in 7-10 days, at which time they will ALL be hungry.
- That’s 3-7 more bed bugs every day being laid for weeks even if the mother doesn’t have another meal.
Some myths about bed bug bites
Any product that claims to make you immune from bed bug bites or that advertises it will prevent bed bugs from biting you are false. Bed bugs are primitive bugs and are programmed to eat, and reproduce, and then eat, repeat…nothing will keep them from biting you except preventing them from reaching you.
Wearing clothing to bed will only encourage them to bite you on your exposed areas, such as your eyelids, neck, hands and face or feet. Having bites does not mean it’s bed bugs. Lot’s of insects bite, however, very few bite in a regular 1,2,3 pattern.
The easiest, fastest way to know if your bites are from bed bugs is to have an inspection, and even then they can be elusive. If you are seeing them regularly, your infestation is growing and will take longer and be more difficult to eradicate.
Facts about bed bugs
Bed bugs will not give up trying to feed (on you) until you kill them. There is no negotiating. Sorry to be so strict. #sorrynotsorry #bedbugsmustdie
Do bed bugs bite women more than men?
While not scientific, it seems (from many blog posts and comments) that women “seem” to get more bites than men – sometimes ALL THE BITES. This is unscientific but taken from numerous forums where this is shared by people dealing with infestations. The unscientific theory is that bed bugs use pheromones to find their meals (us), and may be more attracted to female pheromones. Just a theory, but a lot of research is being conducted on bed bugs and their pheromones, with the goal “death to bed bugs”.
While unproven scientifically, it seems they are more attracted to women than men for the purpose of feeding. Some scientists suggest it is because men are hairier and bed bugs cannot penetrate hair skin as well as smooth skin. I disagree there is any science to this at all because bed bugs will find a smooth place like your eyelids, or cheek, the inside of your ear, or neck or stomach. They will find a smooth place to feed on you unless you are covered, and they will get under your clothes if it means a meal.
It’s more likely that female pheromones may be more attractive to bed bugs than male pheromones since they are pheromone driven.
This can cause a lot of upset if your husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t believe you have bed bugs because he’s/she’s not being bit. This is a common situation but of course bed bugs also bite men. Please send a message using the contact form if you have experienced this.
Phantom Sensations of Bites and Crawling
Many people who suffer from bed bugs develop phantom sensations of bugs crawling on them or biting them. With bed bugs this is very common and something most people are hesitant to talk about.
While no one has come up with a conclusive scientific reason, it makes a certain amount of common sense to say that when bugs crawl over you in your sleep, your subconscious is aware of this and it haunts you for a while. Since you will probably never see a bed bug actually bite you, it stands to reason that you might be hyper-aware of any skin sensations. People suffering from bed bug bites might imagine they can feel every sensation because they are on guard psychologically
Bed bug bites can resemble bites from other insects such as mosquitoes, spiders or fleas, so bites alone are never used to determine if you have bed bugs.
Bites may cause welts or hives, or just appear as a raised and very itchy raised bite. Some people do not react at all to bed bug bites, entomologists suggest this may be approximately 30% of all people. This number is not exact.
Bed bug bites often appear in groups or rows of two or three. Those bite patterns happen when either the insect was disturbed and had to begin feeding again, or there is more than one using you for the late night buffet.
Bed bug bites can manifest in different ways and people react very differently to their bites. Some people break out in hives after being bit, which can easily be mistaken for an allergic reaction to almost anything. This can keep you guessing for weeks without ever thinking it could be bed bugs, while the bugs reproduce. Bites may cause extreme and prolonged itching, or they may become irritated and itchy, only to completely disappear and then reappear later.
If you are getting unexplainable groups of bites, you can mark each bite with a colored sharpie dot. Then you can keep track of new bites, should any appear.
Heat or hot baths can cause old bites to reappear and become itchy again, after seeming to have gone away. Some people keep a journal, keeping track of when they get bites, location and dates they first appear.
How Bed Bugs Feed
Bed bugs feed for between three to fifteen minutes. They inject an anti-coagulant/anesthetic into you and suck your blood with another tube. This thins your blood and prevents you from noticing the prolonged feeding.
Bed bugs need to be in a particular raised angle to inject their feeding tube into you. This is why they cannot really bite you while you are in motion. They need their “host” to be very still which is why they feed primarily at night. Bed bugs will, however bite and feed on you in pure sunlight, in the morning, afternoon, or any time, anywhere if they are hungry and you are still or resting, such as at a desk, chair or car.
Bed bugs cannot jump or fly, they must crawl onto their host to feed. They will typically bite on exposed areas of skin rather than under clothes, but they will bite under clothing if that’s what they need to do to eat. That is why if you wear full body armor to bed with socks and gloves, they will bite you on the face or neck, eyes or inside your ears, whatever is exposed.
I believe (not science) this is a developed instinct to protect themselves, as they are most vulnerable when they have just fed and their body is very stretched and bloated with blood and they are most vulnerable to being squished. They would definitely be more vulnerable under clothes or in-between blankets, instead of on top of the host during and after a meal. Of course this isn’t 100% and you may see evidence of squished bed bugs on your sheets or on the mattress under the sheets. Remember, they just wander around until the find food and then use pheromones to go back to their nesting place. Bed bugs are not evil genius masterminds, they are just a bug. Keep repeating that to yourself when needed.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites
Itching from bed bug bites may be relieved with antihistamines, or lotions that control itching. You should talk to a doctor or nurse about how to control itching. Secondary infections can arise from scratching too much, so try to avoid scratching excessively. Wearing lightweight gloves to bed can prevent scratching in your sleep, if you are sleeping.
Bed bugs feed on blood about once every 1-2 weeks, while the host is inactive or sleeping. Feeding requires about 5-10 minutes to complete and generally occurs on areas of the body that are exposed while sleeping, such as the face, neck, arms, and hands. Bites may itch and a rash may develop around the bite. Bed bugs locate a host by orienting toward cues including heat, CO2,and host odors. When not feeding, bed bugs are generally concealed in cracks and crevices in their environment, including bed frames, head boards and mattresses. Their negative phototaxis (i.e. move away from light) and positive thigmotaxis (i.e. respond positively to tight spaces) makes them very difficult to locate during daytime hours when they are hiding.
Research at universities shows that juvenile nymph bites are just as irritating and indistinguishable from adult bed bug bites.