What Do Bed Bugs Smell Like?

One of the way to tell if you have a bed bug infestation is by their smell, scent or odor. But do you know what bed bugs smell like? If you can feel the scent or the odor of bed bugs then it will be easy to locate and get rid of bed bugs. Do bed bugs produce an odor that can be distinguished? Find out more in this post what bed bug smell like and ways to get rid of the scent.

It is easy to notice an infestation of bed bugs from signs such as fecal matter, blood stains, shed shells, dead or alive bed bugs. But do you may not realize that bed bugs have a certain smell.

The scent of a bed bugs is described as musty and sweet. You can easily compare it to the smell of cilantro. Some people say the smell is close to sweet like berries. Obviously, there has been disagreement on this issue.

But the fact is that bed bugs gives off a scent which occurs when they cluster in large numbers for one to able to smell them.

Is it Possible to smell Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs rarely give off an odor unlike many other bugs. This is probably the reason there has been some disagreement on the smell of bed bugs. There has been comparison to all sorts of different thing like rotten wood and damp, mothballs or even raspberries.

So, can you smell bed bugs? It is possible to smell bed bugs if the infestation is severe, this is when the smell becomes stronger. If the infestation has been there for a while you might get used to it. Otherwise, if this is your first time experience, the smell will be immediately obvious.

The odor becomes stronger if the infestation is right there in your room or in specified locations. A large infestation in your mattress can produce this smell when you lift your mattress.

Why do Bed Bugs Have a Scent?

Obviously, the smell that comes from bed bugs has justifications. Bed bugs don’t just produce a scent for not reason. The odor is for them to navigate the world. Bed bugs produces hormones like histamines to mark their territories. This is to help them find their way back home after a period of feeding. If they don’t have the smell, they would struggle to find their way and would end up lost.

When frightened, bed bugs tend to produce a different smell. For instance, when you lift the pillows, bed sheets or mattress, the bed bugs underneath tend to run and hide. It also happens when they come into contact with light. They release a chemical signal which is the most distinctive scent they release.

How Bed Bugs Produce the Smell

Just to let you know, bed bugs are members of the insect order Hemiptera. This is a significant classification of insects. Also known as the “true bugs”. They all have sucking mouthparts to draw blood from the host.

 The members of this order have gland that they use to release scents. In baby bed bugs, nymphs, the glands are located on the abdomen but in adult bed bugs, the glands are located on their thorax or torso.

Bed bugs tend to release the scent as and when they need arise. Naturally, if they feel frightened, they will produce the warning pheromones as similar case in human when we get frightened we automatically release adrenaline.

What Do Bed Bugs Smell Like?

What do a bed bug smell like? The odor coming from a bed bug has drawn so much controversy. Most people say that they bugs smell like cilantro, the leaves of the coriander plant. The scent can be described as a musty odor, smelling like a house that is damp or rotten wood.

It is also right to say the bed bugs smell like cloying, sweet smell that is similar to berries. Other ways of describing the smell is comparing it to the smell of almonds or burnt almonds. It can also be compared to the smell similar that of cinnamon. Some people have described the smell as that of stink bugs. Finally, some people would argue that the smell is like crayons.

We mentioned earlier in the post that the more severe the infestation is the stronger the smell is. It all depends on the level of infestation you have. But to spot an infestation, here are other signs to look out for: old dead bug shells, dead bed bugs, bed bug fecal matter and bite marks.

Do Bed Bugs Smell Like Urine?

If you have encountered pest infestation in your home, you will agree with me that many pests smell like urine. Although rats and mice have a distinctive odor which is similar. They tend to leave behind droppings which makes their smell unique but can be musty too.

On the other hand, bed bugs don’t smell like urine. An infestation of bed bugs in your mattress will leave the soiled mattress mustier.

Do Bed Bugs Smell Like Mothballs?

Bed bugs don’t smell like mothballs. Mothballs smell like naphtha which is close to oil that is distilled coal. This is far from what bed bugs smell like.  Bed bugs can smell sweet as described in the post probably sweet like a gas that can smell sweet but it is nothing close to mothballs.

Do Bed Bugs Smell Like Cilantro?

There is also a controversy on how people smell cilantro. Some people find the smell of cilantro to that of soap but some disagree.

Bed bugs may or not smell like cilantro. It all depends on your personal experience with an infestation of bed bugs. But if you taste cilantro as a regular herb, then you can easily conclude that the scent of bed bugs is similar to cilantro

Why Do Bed Bugs Smell When You Kill or Crush Them?

Killing or crushing a bed bug is the nastiest thing to do. If you crush a bed bug there would a scent or odor that you may feel. A crushed bed bug will release alarm pheromones’. This chemical is signal to warn others that there is a looming danger and they have to run for their safety.

The pheromones has a scent similar to the normal odor but may have a few other chemicals that will in the end smell like coriander or moldy clothes.

If they had just fed a while ago, and you squashed them, then it is obvious the smell will be that of blood which is tangy and rusty (a smell of iron and oxygen) giving them that unique smell of cilantro.

Can Bed Bugs Smell Humans?

Bed bugs feed on human blood. To get to human they follow a certain scent that human produce which leads to them. Human beings tend to produce heat especially when sleeping that is why it gets warmer in bed.

When the bed bugs want to feed, they also move to areas where the concentration of carbon dioxide is high. We breathe out carbon dioxide. Finally, bed bugs are naturally attracted to the smell of human skin. In fact, if you wore clothes for a day or two and there are bed bugs within your surroundings, bed bugs will find their way and get you.

What Smell Do Bed Bugs Hate that Repel them?

Here are the smell that bed bugs hate. You can use them to get rid of the bed bugs in your home:

a) Lavender Oil

Bed bugs hate the smell of lavender oil. It irritates them so much and they cannot tolerate it. You can make lavender oil spray and use it in your bedroom to get repel the bed bugs. Alternatively, place lavender plant in your bed bug infested room- Buy on Amazon

b) Alcohol

Other than alcohol having the ability to kill nearly half of the entire population of bed bugs, the scent is strong to repel the bed bug. Put alcohol in a spray bottle and spray directly on the bed bugs and in the infested room to repel bed bugs – Buy on Amazon

c) Diatomaceous Earth

This powder works magic not just on bed bugs alone but other bugs including ants, fleas, mites etc. Bed bugs hate the smell of diatomaceous earth and cannot tolerate it all. Scatter the powder in the infested room and watch all the bed bugs that crawl over die. Bed bugs will also avoid coming into contact in areas where the powder has been scattered, the smell isn’t tolerable – Buy on Amazon

d) Blood Orange Oil

Put blood orange oil in a special diffuser or just spray it all over the infested area including the pillows, bed sheets and mattress. Bed bugs will not dare come close to where the oil has been sprayed. It is one of the most effective solution to get rid of bed bug infestation – Buy on Amazon

e) Neem Oil

Neem Oil is another effective natural bed bug repellent. Apply this oil in infested areas in your house and watch bed bug run away. Bed bugs don’t like the smell of neem oil – Buy on Amazon

How to Get Rid of Bed Bug Smell

We have discussed above what smell bed bugs hate. Most of the oils or product discussed can also be used to get rid of the bed bug smell.

Here are other natural scent you can use to get rid of the bed bug smell

f) Peppermint

Peppermint is one of the natural plant that can help you get rid of bed bug smell. You can either use peppermint oil or spray in the room or just place fresh leaves of peppermint to keep you house smelling fresh.

g) Lemon

Lemon doesn’t just repel bed bugs but also leave your house smelling all natural and fresh. Use fresh lemon juice.

h) Cinnamon

Bed bugs hate the smell of cinnamon. Other than just using cinnamon to repel bed bugs from your house, use it to keep your smelling fresh and natural


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