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. The sooner you confirm you have bed bugs, the faster you can begin treatment. ACT FAST because if you do have bed bugs and if they are laying eggs, when the eggs hatch 6-10 days late they will be hungry.
A rash or bites are NOT CONCLUSIVE evidence that you have bed bugs. Something else could have bitten you. You may have been bitten somewhere outside your home and just noticed. Bites don’t always itch or become visible immediately. Researchers conclude approximately 30% of people don’t react to bites at all.
You need a positive identification by capturing a an actual insect, which can be challenging as bed bugs can stay out of your sight for a long time while your infestation keeps growing. Rashes or bites should trigger an inspection, especially if you have experienced the traditional 2-3 bite pattern on two or more different nights.
Can you stop bed bugs from biting?
Bed bugs will not give up trying to feed (on you) until you trap or kill them. There is no negotiating. They never leave on their own. They are not seasonal. All they eat is blood. Don't wait! Order traps for your bed legs NOW! University tested to work!
Bed bugs can bite anywhere, but more frequently will bite on exposed areas of your skin instead of under blankets or clothing.
Can clothes stop bed bugs from biting?
If you wear clothes to bed, including socks, they will probably bite your hands, face and neck. I’m not saying they 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 this 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 and observation.
Wearing clothing to bed will only encourage them to bite you on your exposed areas, such as your eyelids, neck, hands and face, ears, inside your ears or feet. Having bites does not mean you have bed bugs, but very few insects bite in a 1-2-3 pattern, or bite repeatedly week after week without you ever seeing them.
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 and inspect everything that was under the bed or on the floor.
- Launder all your bedding (that won’t be damaged by heat) in the dryer for a couple hours so you know it got good and hot. Pillows too if you can if they won’t be damaged.
- Vacuum around and under your bed.
There is a possibility that whatever bit you got mixed up in your blankets or pillow case and you can kill whatever bit you with heat and a vacuum. *High heat or dryer heat can permanently damage some fabrics, blankets, pillows or down comforters. Read the labels. Some fabrics can melt in high heat in a dryer.
- When you put your bed back together nothing should touch the floors or walls, if possible.
- Get a sharpie and put dots where your bites are so you can tell if you get new bites in 3-7 days.
- Now wait and try not to fret or worry about it. If you get more bites in a few days, then you should isolate your bed with climb-up monitors and try to catch whatever’s biting you there.
- If the bites are in the pattern and you get more, consider a bed bug sniffing dog or a pest company inspection as soon as possible. If it is bed bugs, and it’s a fertile female biting you, 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.
One female adult bed bug can mate with any male including males from her own eggs. Bed bugs are built to reproduce and survive. Our job is to prevent that! 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. If you have been getting bitten repeatedly, get an inspection or follow this guide to inspecting for bed bugs.
How can I stop bed bugs from biting?
That is why the traps are so important. Pest control companies now routinely advise you get the same traps I recommend, because they are a first line defense. They prevent bed bugs from reaching you, if you have completely gotten them out of your bed. They tell you if you do have bed bugs and if your bed bugs are really gone. If you have bed bugs, they are 100% coming for you, if you have the traps on your bed you’ll see them before they see you.
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 or killing them.
There is no fragrance, oil, powder or spray that will stop bed bugs from trying to feed. You have to physically stop them, or kill them, or both. There is no deterrent except traps combined with isolating your bed.
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 has already grown and will take longer and be more difficult to eradicate.
Do bed bugs bite women more than men?
Sometimes your husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t believe you have bed bugs because they're not getting or reacting to bites. This is a common situation but of course bed bugs bite men and women. All you need is blood. Please send a message using the contact form if you have experienced this.
While not proven, 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 and online conversations 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. It’s possible that human female pheromones may be more attractive to bed bugs than male pheromones since they are pheromone driven. Just a theory, but a lot of research is being conducted on bed bugs and their pheromones, with the goal “death to bed bugs”.
Pheromones from bed bugs are being used in university research to develop traps using their own pheromones as an attractant and lure, and it is surprisingly effective. In some tests, 100% of the bed bugs in the test room went to the bed bug pheromone trap and stayed there! The pheromones were gathered from bed bug molts and excrement.
While unproven, 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.
How to Treat Bed Bug Bites
Consult with your doctor before taking any medications including off the shelf products in case they may conflict with medications you are already taking. 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.
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.
If you are getting groups of bites, you can mark each bite with a colored sharpie dot. Then you can keep track of new bites, should any appear.
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, even if subconsciously. I’m not a real doctor but I do STRONGLY suggest you get counseling or therapy during your infestation if you are experiencing a high level of anxiety or insomnia during your infestation.
What do bed bug bites look like?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Research at universities shows that juvenile nymph bites are just as irritating and indistinguishable from adult bed bug bites.
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.
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.
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.