What Attracts Bed Bugs? (Popular Myths Debunked)

In this guide we'll be going everything that might attract bed bugs.

For example....

  • Which chemicals attract bed bugs?
  • Why are bed bugs attracted to your home and to bite humans?
  • Do certain blood types attract bed bugs more than others?
  • What about food and crumbs?
what attracts bed bugs

Many people will encounter bed bugs at some point in their lifetime.

To diminish the chances of an encounter, it's important to know what environment bed bugs like and what could draw them to your home.

Below are some of the most common questions people have about bed bugs and what might attract them. 

What Attracts Bed Bugs?

Quite a few people believe that bed bugs are attracted to filth, grime, and dirt, but this is not the case.

Instead, these pests like warm environments where they have easy access to carbon dioxide and their favorite food: Blood.

Bed bugs find their homes around living creatures and will gravitate towards areas where people and animals live. Hotels and motels are some of the most frequently infested places in the country.

Unfortunately, this means there isn't much a regular individual can do to make their home less desirable to bed bugs. Cleaning and removing clutter and garbage as soon as possible gives pests fewer places to hide.

Homeowners should also vacuum regularly to pick up any stray bed bugs that might have come in on residents.

What Chemicals Attract Bed Bugs The Most?

Cleaning chemicals or the natural hormones produced by humans and animals do NOT attract bed bugs.

Scientists do not believe that any product used regularly in homes - such as ammonia, bleach, or fabric softeners - attracts these irritating pests.

However, recent research by a scientist named Dr. Regine Gries shows that bed bugs are attracted to a chemical they produce themselves: histamine.

Humans do produce histamine, but only during certain immune responses. You will not attract a bed bug by having an allergic reaction. But this histamine does build up in the skin and feces of bed bugs and alert others to safe locations. The researchers in Dr. Gries' lab discovered that when histamine builds up, other bed bugs realize an area is safe and has food.

This is bad news for people who already have large infestations, as they might get even bigger (think snowball effect). But people who do find the occasional bed bug know to eliminate the population as soon as possible to prevent this histamine buildup.

bed bugs attracted to CO2

What Attracts Bed Bugs to Your Home?

Many people think a dirty home attracts bed bugs, but it's just a myth. They will also enter any type of home. Being rich or poor is not a factor in their presence either.

Bed bugs usually enter a property on a person or animal. So, unfortunately, there isn't anything you can do to keep bed bugs out of home besides keeping things clean, regularly vacuuming, and keeping yourself and any pets well-groomed.

What Attracts Bed Bugs to Humans?

Mainly the CO2 you exhale and heat you emit attracts bed bugs to your location. When you fall asleep, your CO2 levels increase, which signals to the bed bugs that you could be asleep and more vulnerable to bites

On top of that...

Roughly 7% of a human's body weight is blood, a bed bug's favorite food. In the same way that a person might view a potato or a crop of corn as delicious morsels, bed bugs view humans as their next meal.

There are not many things you can do to make yourself less attractive to bed bugs.

A basic rule is to keep yourself clean and groomed. The pests tend to come in on people. Staying clean and brushed ensures that any bed bugs on you are washed away with the day.

At the very least you'll be able to notice them if you keep your area clean and tidy.

Even though a dirty room doesn't necessary ATTRACT bed bugs, it does provide lots more places for bed bugs to hide.

What Attracts Bed Bugs to Bite You?

Bed bugs feed on blood, which is why they bite humans.

When you exhale, you emit CO2, which let's them know exactly where you are.

You can't prevent these pests from biting you without losing all of the blood in your body or stop breathing.

Instead, you can focus on keeping bed bugs out of your environment by following our in-depth bed bug removal guide.

What Attracts Bed Bugs to Mattresses?

why are bed bugs attracted to mattresses

Bed bugs like mattresses because they make ideal places to hide and are near their main food source: You.

Each one of these insects is roughly 5-7 mm. long and 2-3 mm. wide. They can slip between the fibers and fabrics of a mattress and then hide inside.

Pro Tip

To protect your mattress and box spring from bed bug infestation, we recommend grabbing a mattress cover. A small investment that could eventually save you thousands in replacement!

Most bed bugs stay within 10 ft. of their primary food source. Since they are nocturnal, they will find humans that are sleeping in their bedrooms and roost in the mattress because it is nearby. 

What Blood Type Attracts Bed Bugs?

Many people know their blood type - A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+, or AB-. Some people believe this type can affect whether or not bed bugs will strike one person and not another.

At present, there is no reliable science to back the idea that bed bugs feed from certain blood types. Although blogs have started to publish this notion, there is no proof.

Many online news sources published articles following a study that demonstrated that bed bugs do not like blood mixed with alcohol. This could mean that people who have been drinking recently are less likely to attract bed bugs. This does not mean you should drink more, but it does help professionals develop new methods of combating a common pest.

What Attracts Bed Bugs to You at Night?

Bed bugs are nocturnal and therefore look for food at night. Humans tend to be sleeping. Since people don't move too much in their sleep, they make excellent food sources for pests.

What Scents Attract Bed Bugs?

Similar to what chemicals attract bed bugs, there are no specific scents that humans have which attract these pests to them. Instead, bed bugs are the most attracted to blood and histamine.

Blood can be found in humans and animals, so they will naturally seek out living creatures from which to feed. Histamine is found in bed bug excrement and skin and indicates a safe place to live and feed. This means bed bugs will frequently be attracted to each other and will often live near one another.

What Food Attracts Bed Bugs?

Blood is the food of bed bugs. They are therefore attracted to living creatures like humans, dogs, and cats.

No human food will draw these pests into a home.

What Doesn't Attract Bed Bugs?

There are many myths surrounding bed bugs. Below is a list of things they are NOT attracted to, despite common belief:

  1. Dirt and grime
  2. Cleaning products
  3. Certain scents from candles
  4. Human food
  5. Excrement or human waste
  6. Certain blood types
  7. Specific kinds of people

Bed bugs do NOT discriminate when it comes to feeding. They don't care how clean your room is, what color your skin is, what your blood type is, they just want to feed on humans.


Bed bugs can be a confusing pest.

Unlike other common problems like ants, cockroaches, and rodents, bed bugs are not attracted to "dirty" environments. They also don't eat human food or transmit any known diseases.

The best way to avoid bed bugs is to keep yourself well-groomed and check your possessions and clothes after visiting public spaces.

Remember: Bed bugs can strike anyway. Developing an infestation is frequently not the property owner's fault.

Other Bed Bug Guides

Curious about other bed bug information? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.

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