Are Bed Bugs Attracted to Light? Popular Myths about Attracting Bed Bugs

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Bed bugs are common household pests. But sometimes, you have to wonder what makes them come to you. Are bed bugs attracted to light? Or does your house have something that they like? Why doesn’t your neighbors have them?

While it’s true that bed bugs are attracted to specific things, there are myths out there that talk about what they’re in to. We’re here to straighten things out and to show you what really drives these bed bugs, information you can use to effectively get rid of them later.

Are Bed Bugs Attracted to Light? Popular Myths about Attracting Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are known to only be attracted by body heat and carbon dioxide. However, some homeowners suggest that light plays a big role in infestations. CC Image courtesy of Medill DC on Flickr

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Bed Bugs are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide

Right off the bat, we’re here to tell you that bed bugs are only attracted to two things: warmth and carbon dioxide.

Like mosquitoes, bed bugs can hone in on body heat. Ezine Articles tells us that they have compound eyes that can detect heat signatures (from as far as 3 feet away, according to Terminix). This is why most of the bites we get are on the center parts of our bodies. It’s much warmer there compared to our arms and legs.

So to put it simply, experts speculate that bed bugs can detect these two things purely because they’re major indications of life. After all, nothing says living than a warm body that breathes.

Bed Bug Attraction Myths

Now that we know what really brings in the bed bugs, it’s time to debunk some myths. Here are the most popular bed bug attraction myths that a lot of people believe in.

Myth #1 Bed Bugs are attracted to light

are bed bugs attracted to light - Lamp

Toning down your room’s lights will hardly affect bed bugs.

Are bed bugs attracted to light? Straight answer? No.

Lighting, subdued lighting or any kind of lighting doesn’t do anything for bed bugs, except mess with their eyes.

In fact, these insects hate light. Ezine Articles further points out that bed bugs’ compounds eyes are sensitive to light. That’s part of the reason why they mostly come out to feed at night. They see better in the dark. (But if they’re presented with an opportunity, they can feed during the day too)

Don’t think too much lighting will stop them from biting you though. As mentioned, they have other more superior senses to track you down.

Myth #2 Bed Bugs are attracted to human smell

Not true.

A study from the Journal of Experimental Biology, researched on body odors and bed bugs. Interestingly, scientists discovered that our smell doesn’t only affect the insect’s behavior; they actually don’t like it. Bed bugs aren’t fans of human smell.

According to the study, we have chemicals in our bodies that give off our human-specific scent. One of these are aldehydes. Bed bugs are repelled by high doses of aldehydes. So they’re not attracted to our smell like mosquitoes are.

Myth #3 Bed Bugs are attracted to dirty houses

bed bug on sheet

The idea from this comes from our observations that bed bugs seem to be plenty in a dirty house.

But in reality, dirt does not do anything for bed bugs. It doesn’t attract them nor repel them. However, if you’re talking about clutter. That’s something that can be useful for these insects. Clutter is ideal for them to hide in.

What’s really happening is that “dirty” houses, ones that are messy and cluttered, only look like they have more bed bugs because they give them plenty of hiding places and plenty of places to populate.

Myth #4 Bed Bugs are attracted to dirty people

The same idea goes for people. Skipping baths has nothing to with bed bugs. So whether you take daily showers or prefer to miss out on a few bathing sessions, these insects can still cling to you if you’re exposed to places where they live in.

Myth #5 Bed Bugs are attracted to blood

Lastly, bed bugs can’t smell blood. What they feed on, like vampires, is pulsating blood – blood inside a living body. Consequently, blood outside of us like in bleeding wounds, in droplets or in fabric stains don’t interest them at all.

Overall, there are plenty of myths out there. And we do sometimes ask; “Are bed bugs attracted to light?” “Are they attracted to blood?” – all in the efforts to know more about them, so we can use the most appropriate treatments and remedies to eradicate them.

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