Why Do Bed Bugs Smell? 7 Possible Reasons

Bed bug odor is strong and distinctive but your biggest concern might be: why do bed bugs smell? The following are some of the 8 reasons why bed bugs produce bad smell, especially when you squish them.

1. Physical crushing

Why does squishing make bed bugs smell? Physical crushing exposes the contents inside a bug. That could include its blood meal too.

It is quite a celebration to kill a beg bug. Squashing just one bed bug is an easy task, unlike many, especially that that haven’t fed for a while. While killing bed bugs may be a way of eliminating them, it has associated risks of staining your sheets or clothing. But you wouldn’t want to withstand the smell of dead bed bugs.

Sometimes, you turn on the bed and crush them without knowing, then the smell strikes you. Physical crushing exposes the inner contents of bed bugs and mixes them with the exoskeleton.

Since bed bugs are easy to squish, try doing that to trigger the smell in case you just want to be sure.

I have talked about bed bug odor but some people cannot tell how they smell. If you want to try it out, pick a pair of gloves and locate a bed bug. Crush between your fingers and smell it. Crushed bed bugs give the strongest smell, and so, you will immediately pick the odor.

2. Danger Signal

In the event of danger an army would alert other warriors. This is the same case with bed bugs. Though you may not know where they are hiding, an intrusion that makes the have the feeling of being in danger will send them to alter other bugs.

Bed bugs give off a distinct scent when they get frightened. Usually, when you lift the bedding or mattress, the bugs underneath will scamper for hiding. At this time of exposure to light and they begin to run, they release chemical signals that give off the musty smell.

3. Exoskeleton Shedding

Did you know that the belly of a bed bug gets full after it feeding for almost ten minutes? After feeding on you, the bug is certain that it is full and needs a rest.  As such, it is now too big for its exoskeleton and needs to shed it, and sure to live for the duration of molting in which it will not be feeding. This period if filled with lying dormant, is exposed to likely predators and other stressors, and sustains a rising temperature. This is a stage that may result in the bug sending out odour.

4. Attraction of Female Bugs

Female bed bugs are attracted to their mates when the males produce a chemical to initiate the ritual. This family is in the quest to raise a new generation where females need to lay eggs that will, within a few days, hatch into baby bed bugs.

5. Bug Wastes

Ordinarily, bed bugs feed on human blood, especially at night. While other flying insects may jump and excrete elsewhere, bed bugs can neither jump nor fly. In their places of hiding, they continuously excrete wastes from the blood meals after the bodies have taken what if is fit for it. In turn, these wastes accumulate and rot, resulting in a smell that is distinct to this species.

6. Molted Skins

If a bed bug is to pass to a next stage of life, it has to feed and molt. That exoskeleton is its only chance of or growing when removed. Five stages of molting transition an immature bed bug into adulthood, leaving behind five sets of dead bed bug skins. This is just the case of a single bed bug. Thousands of bed bugs around you means a bigger pile of dead bed bug skins that will in turn rot and produce that bed bug smell.

7. Harborage

Bed bugs smell when certain types of hormones such as histamine to identify their harborages. Histamines can be found in human urine. Bed bugs give off such hormones to help them find their way back after feeding.

Without those scented markers, they may not be able to find their way back to hiding places and end up lost.

Typically, the smell that originates from their droppings becomes noticeable only when the population has grown into a large one. You cannot detect the smell of bed bug poop if there are only a few of them.

Those are the reasons why bed bugs smell so bad.

It is very likely that you, or someone you know, might have come across some small biting insects either in the office, campus cubicle or clean home. Odds have it that they might have also had rough time trying to figure out who their new friends were. However, our sense of smell does not lead us astray, though you may fail to be alerted of some things around you that need detecting by your sense glands. This may be the camouflage of bed bugs who, despite their creepiness with not very alarming scent, may come unnoticed.

Why do bed bugs smell when you kill or squish them?

Bed bugs give off bad smell or stinking odor because they are disturbed and produce alarm pheromones to send warning. When you squish them, their inner content including poop get exposed and this could produce an unpleasant smell. Other reasons why bed bugs smell include attraction to female bugs, molted shells, bug wastes/droppings, and shedding exoskeletons.

What do bed bugs smell like?

Bed bug odor smell may be musty, woody, sweet, or rotten depending on different people. Others say that bed bugs smell like highly concentrated coriander.Though experiences with these smells differ, you might have noted some change in the smell of your room due to that wet clothing.

Just like any insect would release body chemicals that produce some odour, this bug family is no exception. Alarm pheromone is a bed bug odour that gets your attention if these insects have invaded your home or workplace. According to bed bug experts, this smell is musty, just like coriander.

Can You Actually Smell Bud Bugs?

Yes, you can smell bed bugs because they release chemical signals known to have strong, distinctive characteristics. Often, people connect bed bug smell to several things such as rotten wood, raspberries or dampness. If you want to experience this smell, be keen to know what you are looking for. Your battle against bed bugs begins when you put your sniffing abilities before everything.

The bug family is big and the experience of people differ much. Note that the chemical signal released by these bugs is their most unique smell. But it doesn’t just come from a single bed bug. As a colony, they give off an odour that can easily hit your sense organs.

Does Bed Bug Smell Vary?

Yes. Bed bug smell is dependent on maturity of the bug and rate of infestation. In case of higher concentrations of mature bed bugs, the smell is very strong and unpleasant. It is even stronger when you kill the bed bug. This is because once the blood has been released from the body of a bed bug, it may stick to the surface it has spilled on, mostly a bed sheet or clothing. The smell does not just go away easily.

How Bad is Bed Bug Smell?

Bed bug smell is not poisonous. Different people say the odor is unpleasant but others claim it is sweet. Of course, though this depends on the intensity of the infestation, an actual bed bug does not smell bad, except for the odour, and you wouldn’t just like the smell of moldy clothing damp shoe.

Bed bugs have scent glands that produce a musty order commonly described as coriander-like smell.

It is not a pleasant smell. When you have an infestation, it may be easy to pick up this funny smell that is often comparable to moldy shoes or even wet moldy fabrics.

Why Do Bed Bugs Release Alarm Pheromone?

This is one simple question worth finding an answer to. Bed bugs are in constant hide-out to avoid being sensed since that may deny them a meal. To reach their host, these insects will have to find strategically locate their hide out for easy to and fro movement.

Depending on the state of the bug, what chemical they release will vary. Bed bugs work like any colony around though it is quite difficult just yet to establish the causes of bed bug odour release. However, the reasons below will help you know when bed bugs take the initiative to release the chemical:

Why knowing the smell matters?

Knowing the smell of bed bugs is the key to detecting these creatures, though there are a handful of insect scents out there. Bed bugs are small insects that are almost round and brown that feed on animal or human blood. While you may assume that bed bugs cannot find their way into your home, you have probably not learnt the secret behind sensing these creatures. Just like other bugs, bed bugs emit a smell when around their hosts, often for various reasons.

See also: What do bed bugs look like?

Can dogs smell bed bugs?

Dogs have a 97% accuracy in bed bug smell detection. Man’s best friend is bed bug’s worst enemy. Sometimes, especially in the early stages of bed bug infestation, you may not notice the smell. However, if you suspect that there could be bugs, use dogs to find them.

Dog have helped identify bed bug infestation by sniffing and finding them within just minutes. Your regular dog pet may not be able to do this since this process typically requires training.

Today, dogs who are experts are increasingly being used to facilitate bed bug pest control in industries that are prone to infestation such as travel and hotel.

Where to Look for Bug Wastes and Molten Skins

  • Behind the head board
  • At electrical outlets
  • Along your mattress joints
  • Along carpet edges
  • On bed wood frame or hollow spots on metal bed
  • Wall junctions/ceilings
  • Behind wall pictures/frames
  • Personal item such as books and clothing

What Next?

If you are now sure to sense bed bugs and would love to eliminate them, seek professional help. These insects can camouflage anywhere and do not easily let their generation be wiped off. You may need help.