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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Stoddard

Uncovering the Mystery of Bed Bugs: What Are They, Why Do They Bite, and How to Prevent Them?

Revised and Updated 12/5/2023 due to the everchanging Bed Bug and Pest Control Industry. Bed bugs are a growing problem in homes and businesses across the country. But what exactly are bed bugs? Where do they come from? Why do they bite humans? How can you prevent an infestation? These questions have been asked time and again by those who suffer from these persistent pests. Bed bug bites can be uncomfortable or even dangerous if left untreated, so it's essential to understand them fully before taking action against them. This pest control blog post will answer all your burning questions about bed bugs: What are bed bugs? Why do they feed on humans? Do they also feed on animals? How can pest control companies get rid of them effectively? And finally, what measures should you take to protect yourself against a potential infestation of bedbugs at home or on your business premises? So stay tuned for answers to all these queries as we explore the topic further.

Table of Contents:

  • What are Bed Bugs?

    • Subheading a:

    • Subheading b:

    • Subheading c:

  • Why Do Bed Bugs Bite Humans?

  • Do Bed Bugs Feed on Animals?

  • How Can I Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation in My Home or Business?

  • What Should I Do if I Suspect a Bed Bug Infestation in My Home or Business?

    • Signs of an Active Infestation:

  • FAQs concerning Bed Bugs: What Are Bed Bugs? Bed Bug Bites

    • What do bed bug bites look like on humans?

    • How do you know if my bites are from bed bugs?

    • What happens when a bedbug bites you?

    • What is the leading cause of bed bug infestations?

  • Conclusion

What are Bed Bugs?

Bed Bugs have existed for thousands of years. Still, in recent decades, they have become more common due to increased international travel and the development of less effective insecticides against them. Bed bugs typically hide during the day and venture out at night to feed on their hosts while they sleep.

Subheading a:

Definition of Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep. They are scientifically known as Cimex lectularius. Here are some key points about them:

  1. Appearance: Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, oval-shaped, and flat. They are about the size of an apple seed (4-5 mm long).

  2. Habitat: They are primarily found in places where people sleep, such as beds, mattresses, box springs, and bed frames. However, they can also hide in cracks and crevices in walls, furniture, and floors.

  3. Feeding and Bites: Bed bugs feed on blood, usually at night. Their bites are painless at first but can turn into itchy welts. Unlike flea bites that are mainly around the ankles, bed bug bites can occur on any area of skin exposed while sleeping.

  4. Signs of Infestation: Signs include blood stains on your sheets or pillowcases, dark or rusty spots of bed bug excrement on mattresses and bedding, an offensive, musty odor from the bugs' scent glands, and finding bed bug feces, egg shells, or shed skins.

  5. Reproduction: Females can lay hundreds of eggs over their lifetime, which hatch within about a week.

  6. Health Risks: While bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases, their bites can lead to allergic reactions, and the presence of bed bugs can cause distress and sleep disturbances.

  7. Control and Removal: Getting rid of bed bugs usually requires chemical treatments. Combining chemical and non-chemical treatments is often necessary, and diligent vacuuming, heat treatment, or freezing infested items can also be effective.

Bed bugs are notorious for their resilience and can be difficult to eradicate, often requiring professional pest control services. Regular inspection and good hygiene practices can help prevent bed bug infestations.

Subheading b:

Where do Bed Bugs Come From?

Bed bugs have been associated with humans for thousands of years. The origin of bed bugs can be traced back to the regions that are now within the Middle East. They likely originated in caves inhabited by both humans and bats and from there, they began their association with human environments. Here are some key points about the history and spread of bed bugs:

  1. Ancient Association: Bed bugs have been mentioned in ancient texts, suggesting they have lived in human environments for centuries. They were known in the ancient world in places like Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

  2. Global Spread: Human travel and trade facilitated their spread across the world. As people moved and explored, they inadvertently brought bed bugs with them. By the 18th century, bed bugs were common in homes across Europe and North America.

  3. Hiding and Hitchhiking: Bed bugs are adept at hiding in luggage, clothing, and other personal belongings, which allows them to travel easily with humans. This has been a major factor in their global distribution.

  4. Resurgence: In the mid-20th century, bed bug infestations declined significantly, mainly due to the widespread use of DDT and other potent insecticides. However, since the late 1990s and early 2000s, bed bugs have resurgent worldwide, partly attributed to increased international travel and trade and growing resistance to pesticides.

  5. Diverse Environments: While originally associated with temperate climates, bed bugs have adapted to various environments worldwide, thriving in developed and developing countries.

  6. Urban Spread: In modern times, bed bugs are predominantly found in urban areas with a higher density of human dwellings. They are common in places like hotels, dormitories, apartment buildings, and shelters.

Understanding the origins and spread of bed bugs is important for controlling and preventing infestations. Their long history of cohabitation with humans and their ability to adapt to changing environments make them particularly challenging pests to manage.

Subheading c:

How Do Bed Bugs Spread?

Bed bugs spread primarily through human activities and their ability to hitchhike on personal belongings. Here's how they typically spread:

  1. Travel: Bed bugs can easily travel in luggage, clothing, and other personal items. Hotels, hostels, and Airbnb accommodations are common places where travelers may unknowingly pick up bed bugs and bring them home.

  2. Used Furniture: Buying or acquiring used furniture, especially beds and couches, can be a common way bed bugs are introduced into a home. Bed bugs can hide in the crevices and folds of furniture.

  3. Close Proximity Dwellings: In apartment buildings, condominiums, and dormitories, bed bugs can spread between units. They can crawl through small spaces, such as cracks in walls and floors, electrical outlets, and through shared ventilation systems.

  4. Shared Spaces: Public spaces like movie theaters, public transport, schools, and offices can also be areas where bed bugs are spread, though this is less common compared to homes and hotels.

  5. Personal Items: Items like backpacks, purses, and other personal belongings that are set down in infested areas can pick up bed bugs and transport them to new locations.

  6. Laundry Facilities: Shared laundry facilities can also be a point of spread, especially if infested bedding or clothing is brought in.

  7. Visitors and Guests: Guests coming from an infested environment may inadvertently bring bed bugs into your home.

Bed bugs do not fly or jump but can quickly move over floors, walls, and ceilings. Their flat bodies make it easy for them to fit into tiny spaces about the width of a credit card. This ability to hide and hitchhike contributes to their effectiveness at spreading unnoticed. To prevent spreading bed bugs, it's important to be vigilant when traveling, inspect used furniture before bringing it into your home, and be cautious about where you place your personal items in public spaces. Regular inspection of your living spaces can also help detect an infestation early.

Key Takeaway: Bed bugs can quickly spread from one location to another, and if left unchecked, they can cause secondary severe health risks associated with their bites. It is essential to inspect all areas where people sleep and contact a professional pest control company immediately if an infestation is suspected.

Why Do Bed Bugs Bite Humans?

They are typically found in beds, furniture, carpets, clothing, and other fabrics where they can hide during the day. Bed bugs have been around for centuries but have become increasingly common in recent years due to increased travel and global trade.

What Attracts Bed Bugs to Humans? Bed bugs are attracted to human hosts primarily by body heat and carbon dioxide emissions from breathing. They also detect movement through their antennae, which helps them locate a host when they come out at night to feed. Additionally, bed bugs may be attracted to certain scents, such as perfumes or sweat produced by humans, which can act as an attractant for these pests.

When bed bugs bite humans, they inject saliva into the skin containing anticoagulants to keep blood flowing while feeding. Depending on individual sensitivity, this can cause irritation and itching at the site of the bed bug bite, followed by redness and swelling around it a few hours or days later. The duration of symptoms may vary from person to person but usually lasts two days up until a week before subsiding without any lasting effects other than potential scarring if scratched excessively or left untreated long enough for infection to set in.

Although bed bugs are typically attracted to humans due to their body heat and exhaled carbon dioxide, the exact reason they bite some people and not others remains a mystery. Despite this, it is crucial to understand how bed bugs feed on animals and protect our pets from potential infestations.

Key Takeaway: Bed bugs are attracted to humans by body heat and carbon dioxide emissions, and when they bite, it can cause irritation, itching, redness, and swelling. Symptoms usually last a few days but can lead to scarring or infection if left untreated.

Do Bed Bugs Feed on Animals?

Bed bugs can feed on animals, although they primarily prefer human hosts. Here are some details:

  1. Primary Preference for Humans: Bed bugs are more attracted to humans due to factors like body heat, carbon dioxide, and certain chemicals in human sweat. Their feeding habits have evolved to specialize in feeding on human blood.

  2. Feeding on Animals: If humans are not available, bed bugs can and will feed on the blood of animals. This includes domestic animals like dogs, cats, birds, and rodents.

  3. Animal Reactions: Animals can also react to bed bug bites like humans. These reactions can range from no visible effect to small red bumps or itchiness.

  4. Animal Bedding: Bed bugs can infest areas where pets sleep or spend much time. However, they are less likely to live on the animal's body like fleas or ticks, as bed bugs prefer to hide in nearby crevices and only emerge to feed.

  5. Less Common in Animals: Infestations solely on animals are less common, as bed bugs generally prefer human hosts when available.

While bed bugs can feed on animals, their preference for humans means that controlling a bed bug infestation in a home typically focuses on areas where humans sleep and spend extended periods of time rather than primarily targeting pet areas.

What Animals Are Prone To Being Bitten By Bed Bugs?

Most mammals are vulnerable to being bitten by bed bugs; however, cats and dogs seem particularly susceptible due to their fur coats, which provide an ideal hiding place for these pests. Other animals, such as rodents or birds, may also become victims of bed bug bites if they come into contact with them.

How Can I Tell If A Bed Bug has bitten my pet?

The most common signs that a bed bug has bitten your pet include itching or scratching at the affected area and redness or swelling around the bite site. Sometimes, you may even see tiny black spots where the bed bug has left its saliva behind after feeding on your pet's blood. Not all pets will show signs of being bitten, so it is best to inspect your pet regularly for any suspicious marks or bites.

Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Animal Bites From Bed Bugs?

There are health risks associated with animal bites from bed bugs; however, these risks vary depending on what animal was bitten and how long ago it was exposed to the infestation. Generally speaking, any animal exposed to many bedbugs could suffer skin irritation or infection from bacteria in their saliva when they bite an animal host's skin surface.

While bed bugs are not known to feed on animals, it is vital to know the potential risks associated with animal bites from these pests. Proper sanitation and pest control measures should be taken to ensure that your home or business remains free from a bed bug infestation.

Key Takeaway: Bed bugs can bite animals, and there are potential health risks associated with animal bites from bed bugs; however, the severity of these risks varies depending on the type of animal and how long ago it was exposed to the infestation.

How Can I Prevent a Bed Bug Infestation in My Home or Business?

They can be found in homes, businesses, hotels, schools, hospitals, and other places people live or work. Bed bugs are a nuisance because they can cause itchy bites and spread quickly from one location to another.

The best way to assist in preventing a bed bug infestation is to practice cleanliness and sanitation. Vacuuming carpets regularly will help remove any bed bug eggs or larvae that may have been brought into your home or business on clothing or furniture. Wash all bedding (including pillows) in hot water at least once weekly to kill any existing bed bugs and their eggs. Additionally, keep clutter such as bookshelves and dressers away from walls so that bed bugs cannot hide inside them.

Inspecting for signs of an infestation is also essential in preventing one from occurring. Dark spots on mattresses may indicate fecal matter left behind by feeding bedbugs; therefore, checking cracks and crevices around baseboards is essential. Additionally, shed skins can signify molting, so inspect secondhand used furniture before bringing it into your home. Furthermore, pay attention if you start getting unexplained bites while sleeping, as bedbugs could cause these. Lastly, inspect luggage after returning from travel, as this can help prevent the spread of any potential infestations.

If you suspect there might already be an infestation present in your home or business, then professional pest control services should be contacted immediately. They have the expertise needed to correctly identify and eradicate the problem using specialized treatments such as insecticides, heat treatments, steam cleaning, etc. Professional exterminators will also advise how best to avoid future issues with pests like bedbugs through preventive measures like sealing up entry points around windows/doors and regular vacuuming/cleaning routines.

By implementing the appropriate cleanliness and sanitation practices and taking steps to identify and control a potential infestation, you can reduce your chances of having an unwanted bed bug problem in your home or business. Additionally, professional pest control services may be necessary to eradicate any infestations. Let's now explore what should be done if you suspect a bed bug infestation or evidence of it in your home or business.

Key Takeaway: The best way to prevent a bed bug infestation is to practice good cleanliness and sanitation habits, inspect for signs of an infestation and contact professional pest control services if necessary.

What Should I Do if I Suspect a Bed Bug Infestation in My Home or Business?

Bed bugs can be found in a multitude of places, including homes, hotels, offices, and other buildings. If you suspect signs of a bed bug infestation, or activity in your structure, home, or business, it is crucial to take action immediately.

Signs of an Active Infestation:

Bed bugs are often difficult to detect because bed bugs hide during the day and come out at night when people sleep. Signs of an active infestation include:

  • Finding live or dead bed bugs.

  • Seeing dark spots (bed bug excrement) on mattresses or furniture.

  • Noticing a sweet, musty odor.

  • Discovering eggs or eggshells near beds.

  • Experiencing unexplained bites on your body while sleeping.

Steps to Take Immediately After Discovering an Infestation: If you discover signs of a bed bug infestation in your home or business, it is crucial to act quickly before the problem spreads further. First, vacuum all areas where bed bugs may be present such as carpets, mattresses, upholstered furniture, cracks in walls/floors, etc., then dispose of the vacuum bag properly outside, away from any living spaces. Second, wash all clothing and linens with hot water (at least 120°F) for at least 20 minutes, then dry them using high heat settings for 30 minutes minimum per load – this will kill any remaining eggs/larvae which could otherwise hatch later on down the line creating another wave of infestations. Finally, contact a professional pest control company specializing in eradicating bed bug problems as soon as possible so they can inspect your property thoroughly and provide effective treatment options tailored to eliminate these pests from your environment once again.

Professional pest control companies possess specialized equipment not available to the general public, making their job easier when dealing with large-scale infestations such as those caused by bedbugs. They also know which products are most effective against these pests, enabling them to eliminate them more quickly than if someone were attempting DIY methods without proper knowledge of tackling such issues. Furthermore, there is peace of mind in knowing that professionals have experience handling these situations safely and effectively each time.

Key Takeaway: Bed bug infestations can be difficult to detect and should be dealt with quickly by a professional pest control company as they have the specialized equipment and experience to eliminate them effectively.

FAQs in Relation to Bed Bugs What Are Bed Bugs?

What do bed bug bites look like on humans?

Bed bug bites can vary in appearance from person to person. Generally, they appear as small red bumps that may be itchy or painful. In some cases, the bites may cause a burning sensation and even form into welts or blisters. Bed bugs are believed to be attracted to certain people due to their body chemistry and carbon dioxide levels, which can trigger an increased response from insects. Additionally, those with weaker immune systems may experience more severe reactions than others when bitten by bed bugs.

How do you know if my bites are from bed bugs?

Identifying bed bug bites can be challenging, as they can resemble bites from other insects like mosquitoes or fleas. However, some certain characteristics and patterns can help you determine if your bites are likely from bed bugs:

  1. Appearance of Bites: Bed bug bites often appear as small, red, raised bumps on the skin. They can sometimes have a darker red spot in the middle. The bites are usually slightly swollen and may become itchy or irritated.

  2. Pattern of Bites: Bed bug bites often occur in a line or in a small cluster. This is due to the bed bug's feeding habits, where it might bite, move slightly, and bite again. They are often referred to as "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" bites.

  3. Location of Bites: Bed bug bites usually occur on parts of the body that are exposed during sleep, such as the face, neck, arms, and hands. However, they can also occur on other areas of the body.

  4. Timing of Symptoms: The reaction to bed bug bites varies among individuals. Some people may not develop visible symptoms at all, while others may notice signs immediately. In some cases, it may take a few days for symptoms to appear.

  5. Nocturnal Feeding: Bed bugs typically feed at night while you are sleeping. If you wake up with new bites that weren't there when you went to sleep, this could indicate bed bugs.

  6. Other Signs of Infestation: Besides bites, look for other signs of bed bugs in your sleeping area. These include small blood stains on sheets, tiny dark spots of bed bug excrement, shed skins, and the bugs themselves.

  7. Response to Treatment: Unlike some other insect bites, bed bug bites may not improve significantly after using antihistamines or corticosteroids.

If you suspect that your bites are from bed bugs, it's important to inspect your sleeping area thoroughly for signs of an infestation. If you find evidence of bed bugs or if the bites persist or worsen, it may be wise to consult a professional pest control service or a healthcare provider for appropriate advice and treatment.

What happens when a bedbug bites you?

When a bed bug bites, it injects saliva into the skin of its victim. This saliva contains an anticoagulant that prevents blood from clotting and numbs the area so the person doesn't feel pain. The bed bug feeds on the host's blood for several minutes before moving on to another spot. Some humans and pets may be more attractive to bed bugs than others due to their body chemistry or other factors, but why some people are bitten more often than others is still unknown. Bed bugs can cause itching and irritation in those they bite, as well as potential allergic reactions in some cases.

What is the main cause leading to bed bugs?

The leading cause of bed bugs is a lack of proper hygiene and sanitation. Bed bugs are most often attracted to warm, dark places where they can feed on human blood. They thrive in areas with poor cleaning habits and high levels of clutter, such as mattresses, furniture, carpets, and other soft furnishings. People who do not regularly clean their homes or launder their bedding are more likely to be bitten by bed bugs than those who keep their living spaces clean and free from debris. Additionally, people who travel frequently may bring home hitchhiking bed bugs that have been picked up in hotels or other public areas.


Bed bugs are a nuisance and can be challenging to get rid of. If you suspect your home or business has been infested with bed bugs, it is essential to take action quickly. By understanding what bed bugs are, why they bite humans, knowing they can feed on animals, and how to prevent an infestation in the first place, you can help protect yourself from these pests. Bed bug bites are known to cause skin irritation and other health problems, so it is vital to take steps now to avoid a potential problem down the road.

Bed bugs are a growing problem that can cause severe discomfort and health risks. If you think you may have been exposed to bed bug bites, immediately seek professional help from a bed bug removal company. Take proactive steps now by learning more about what causes bed bug infestations and how they spread so you can take the necessary measures to prevent them from becoming an issue in your home or workplace. Take your time - get ahead of the problem before it becomes even more prominent! Once employing Imperial Pest Prevention's bed bug exterminator services? Follow the video below for prep-work help before your pest control service.

Bed Bug Service Preparation Video


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