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Can Bed Bugs Smell Blood?

If you have bed bugs, you may start to wonder exactly how they find you at night. 

Bed bugs can not smell blood, so they do not sniff out blood to find you. Instead, they detect the CO2 and heat emitted from your body.  Then, they bite until they find a vein. 

How Do Bed Bugs Find People to Feed On?

Bed bug bites on a female's back.

Bed bugs find people by searching for carbon dioxide (CO2) and heat. 

And they can detect these things as long as they are within three feet of you, which is why they like to live near where you sleep. 

Then, after the bed bug detects the CO2 and the heat coming off you, they begin to bite until they find a vein. 

Since bed bugs can not actually smell blood, they may have to bite a few times before finding an adequate place to feed. 

This reason is why people who have bed bugs often wake up with bite clusters since the insect usually has to try several places before it hits a vein. 

Will Bed Bugs Feed on Any Creature With Blood?

No, bed bugs will not feed on any creature with blood. 

They can only feed on warm-blooded animals

Thus, reptiles and amphibians are safe from bed bug bites. 

However, other pets, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds, are at risk of bites. 

And bed bugs find these warm-blooded animals the same way they locate humans, by tracking the CO2 and heat their bodies put off. 

Yet, even though bed bugs can feed on other animals in your home, they prefer people. 

How Do Bed Bugs Know What’s a Person and What’s an Animal?

Scientists aren’t entirely sure why bed bugs prefer people over other animals or how they can tell the difference. 

But, the primary theory is that they can pick up on certain bodily signatures that are unique to humans. 

Do Bed Bugs Prefer Certain Blood Types?

"BLOOD TYPE" title on a medical document.

No, bed bugs do not prefer certain blood types more than others, and they can feed on any blood type. 

Then Why Do Some People Get More Bites Than Others?

If bed bugs don’t have a preferred blood type, why do some people get more bites than others?

Well, for one, bed bugs like to feed on smooth, exposed skin because it’s easier for them to access. 

So, if two people are sleeping in the same bed, the bed bugs will most likely prefer the one who sleeps in more revealing clothes and has less body hair. 

Additionally, bed bugs don’t like movement, so they may choose the person who doesn’t move around as much. 

Finally, both people may be getting the same number of bites, but it just seems like one person is being bitten more because of how their body reacts. 

For instance, some people do not react to bed bug bites, meaning that the bites do not swell up or itch and can be quite hard to see. 

Conversely, others have more extreme reactions to bed bug bites that can produce swelling, skin discoloration, fluid-filled sacks, and painful itching. 

So, the person who is more bothered by the insects may feel like they have more bites when they actually don’t. 

Will Bed Bugs Bite You More When You’re On Your Period?

Since bed bugs can not detect blood, there is no reason for them to bite you more when you are on your period. 

How Do I Keep Bed Bugs From Biting Me?

A no bed bug sign with a blurred background of a bedroom.

You may have heard that bed bugs don’t like certain smells or won’t bite you when the lights are on, but these statements are pretty much myths. 

The only real way to keep bed bugs from biting you at night is to get rid of the bed bugs in your home. 

So, below, I’ll explain some of the ways you can eliminate your bed bug infestation. 

However, just remember that using only one of these methods probably won’t eradicate all the bed bugs from your home. 

Therefore, you should instead use multiple techniques to get rid of the bed bugs. 

Wash Your Bedclothes Often 

Washing your bedding will kill all the bed bugs on them as long as you launder them on the highest possible heat setting. 

Also, washing your bedclothes will make it a bit harder for the bed bugs to detect you since you are eliminating some of the smells bed bugs use to search for you. 


You can use the suction nozzle on your vacuum cleaner to suck up bed bugs on your mattress, furniture, walls, or any other surface. 

You should also vacuum your carpets and rugs regularly to catch any bed bugs that may be living there. 


Although decluttering won’t kill bed bugs, it will make it much easier for you to spot and eliminate them. 

And in particular, you should get rid of or move the items under your bed. 

Bed bugs like to live in these places so that they can be close to you and detect you more easily. 

If you remove everything under your bed, the insects will have to move elsewhere, which will make it harder for them to find you. 

Use Pesticides 

One of the best ways to get rid of bed bugs is to spray or sprinkle pesticides in places where these insects live. 

However, just be sure you read and follow all the instructions on the label to keep from harming yourself, your family, and your pets. 

Have a Heat Treatment Performed

Although the most expensive option, having a professional heat treatment done is the most effective way to get rid of bed bugs in your home. 


Bed bugs can not smell blood and instead use their ability to detect CO2 and heat to find a host. 

Thus, because there is no way to prevent your body from emitting these signatures, the only true way to stop bed bugs from biting you is to eradicate them.