While it may appear that bed bugs prefer one person over another, scientists think this may be due to naturally occurring chemicals called pheromones. Other researchers say the other person is getting bites, but are not having a reaction, so they don’t think they are getting bit.
What are pheromones and how might they determine who bed bugs bite when given more than one host to feed on? Pheromones are a chemical that humans (animals) and insects naturally produce. Pheromones heavily influence behavior such as being attracted to or repulsed by another animal or even insect.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information describes pheromones in this article:
“Pheromones that produce a simple releaser effect–a single specific response mediated directly by the central nervous system–are widespread in the animal kingdom and serve a great many functions. The chemical structures of six attractants are shown <in the picture>. Although two of the six–the mammalian scents muskone and civetone–have been known for some 40 years and are generally assumed to serve a sexual function, their exact role has never been rigorously established by experiments with living animals. In fact, mammals seem to employ musk-like compounds, alone or in combination with other substances, to serve several functions: to mark territories, to assist in territorial defense and to identify the sexes.”
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 scientific theory is that in addition to carbon dioxide and warmth, bed bugs also 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 it may appear that bed bugs prefer one person over another, the more likely explanation is that the other person is not reacting to bites. Because there is more research and testing to conduct while researchers learn more about them, it is possible bed bugs prefer one person over another, when there is more than one option (meal) available.