What Do Bed Bugs Smell Like?

What do bed bugs smell like? If there is an odor in your home that you do not recognize, you may be wondering if the culprit could be a bed bug infestation. 

What Do Bed Bugs Smell Like

But how do you know? In this article, we are going to examine what bed bugs smell like and what to look out for – to control bed bugs try these steamers

The chances are that you will be much more likely to notice the other signs of bed bugs before you detect their aroma.

What Do Bed Bugs Smell Like??

There are many signs that an infestation of bed bugs might be present, some things that you might commonly notice are blood spots and the dropping of the bed bugs which appear as small specks.

You may also notice that you suffer from irritation and itching as a result of these creatures. However, one of the giveaway signs that you have some unwelcome guests could be their scent – check these bed bug nymphs

It is more common to notice the odor of bed bugs when there is a much larger infestation, due to their small size, they need to be in a larger number for the odor to be potent enough to be detected by human nostrils. 

There have been suggestions that the smell of bed bugs can be compared to the scent of berries and has a musty yet sweet smell. Some people have remarked that the scent is similar in nature to the herb, cilantro (or coriander, depending on where you come from). 

That being said, there are a variety of smells linked with bed bugs and it is somewhat down to your personal ability to pick up on scents as to what you might smell. Some of the most common comparisons are:

  • Rotting wood
  • Must-similar to what you might smell in a damp building
  • Something along the lines of cinnamon
  • Crayons
  • Almonds
  • Stink bugs (check stink bugs vs bed bugs)

It is quite likely that if you enter into a property where bed bugs are present with an odor, you will pick up on this right away, however, if you have an infestation in your home, you may become immune to the smell. 

Read Also: Does Vinegar Kill Bed Bugs?

What Is The Reason For Bed Bugs Having A Distinct Scent?

There are many reasons that various animals have an odor and the reason for bed bugs is rather interesting. One of the main reasons is similar to a homing device.

On top of this, they will let off a scent when they are fearful, for example when they are exposed to light their bodies will react and emit a chemical that releases a scent – even for the eggs

This is a defense mechanism that is seen in quite a few species across the animal kingdom, most famously the skunk. The bed bugs will leave their scent on their home so that they are easily able to return to it at a later time.

What Is The Best Way To Identify A Bed Bug Infestation?

We briefly touched on the ways you might spot a bed bug infestation aside from their scent – e.g. flea bites vs bed bugs bites. Let’s take a look in a little more detail at the signs you should be looking out for.

As we mentioned, in order to properly smell bed bugs, you are going to need to be met with a rather large gathering of these pests, so it is best to tackle the problem earlier or when spotting any of the following signs.

  • The shells of bed bugs may be found on your soft furnishings or flooring. You might find dead bed bugs. 
  • You may notice that you have bite marks on your skin or find that your skin is irritated and itchy.
  • Bed bug fecal matter and dead bed bugs may be present in the home, this is usually black, dust-like particles that will leave a red smear when rubbed or crushed.

Read Also: Dead Bed Bugs

Common Misconceptions About The Smell Of Bed Bugs?

You are probably beginning to understand that the smell of bed bugs can differ greatly from person to person but there are some myths surrounding their odor that are far from being truth.

  • You might have heard that these creatures give off an odor of urine but this is not true.
  • It is also said that bed bugs smell similar to mothballs but again there is no truth in this.

Do Dead Bed Bugs Smell Different?

If you are concerned about a bed bug (they don’t jump) infestation, one of the things that you might wonder is whether the deceased bed bugs will leave a worse odor.

The odor certainly won’t be putrid, you may notice the scent of cilantro, to begin with, but if the bug was crushed whilst still digesting a feed, you might also pick up an aroma of blood.

Another thing to be mindful of with large infestations is that the buildup of the bed bug poop may give off a rusty odor, this could be a warning sign that they are present. Read Also: Does Salt Kill Bed Bugs? 


Bed bugs do have a distinct smell but it can vary depending on how the individual interprets the scent.

That being said, it is possible to pick up on a bed bug infestation a long time before their odor becomes apparent.

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