If You Smell This in Your Bedroom, You Might Have Bed Bugs

This scent could mean it's time for you to call an exterminator.

From funky odors in the fridge to questionable scents coming from the basement, our sense of smell can warn us of potential danger. However, sometimes things we should be alerted to don't smell all that bad, which could make detecting them tricky. This can be the case with bed bugs. While the creepy crawlers do have a handful of specific scents, they're not always unpleasant, so the scent can easily be overlooked. To see what smell you should be looking out for, read on, and for more signs of infestation, If You See This in Your Yard, Prepare for a Bug Invasion, USDA Says.

Bed bugs can smell musty and sweet like berries.

Bedbug on a blanket, things housekeepers hate
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The smell that bed bugs give off varies depending on your personal olfactory sense and can also change depending on the state of the bug. Pest company Orkin says bed bugs can give off a "musty, sweet smell, often likened to berries," if there's a sizable infestation.

Professional pest control specialist and entomologist Nicholas Martin said this smell usually only arises if "many of them are squashed or disturbed. You're not likely to detect the smell from a few squashed bugs, so this usually occurs if the infestation is severe." And for more on these dreaded critters, These Awful Bugs You Forgot About May Soon Come Back, Exterminators Warn.

And they can release a coriander scent when they feel they're in danger.

bed bugs
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Bed bugs release pheromones when they feel they're in peril to alert other bugs to danger, Martin says. "The smell can be quite similar to coriander or a pile of clothes that was closed in the washing machine for a couple of days or a pair of moldy shoes," he notes. According to pest control expert Jordan Foster, at low concentrations some people find this smell to be pleasant. However, if a large group of bed bugs gets disturbed, you may get a whiff of an odor similar to a stink bug's, he adds. And for more odors that should have you calling an exterminator, If Your House Smells Like This, You May Have a Bug Problem.

There are other signs of an infestation to look for.

Bed bug bites on back
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Before calling an exterminator, you may want to check for other signs of the critters. Foster said if you see "dark blood stains on sheets and bedding" or have "itchy, irritated skin" seemingly from bites, it's time to contact a professional. The bed bug's pheromone scent "is an effective way for the pests to communicate and remain hidden," Foster says. "Because of their elusiveness, it is best to contact a professional pest control company rather than trying to tackle the problem by yourself."

Unfortunately, these bugs may not be confined solely to your bed. Martin says you should inspect all other furniture, including couches, chairs, and any cracks in the room. "Bed bugs can hide anywhere they feel safe," he says. "However, the most common location is your bed, as it's the best place to feed." And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Bed bugs feast on your body at night.

woman scratching painful bite on her arm
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Besides causing restless nights, these pests nibble on your skin when you fall asleep. "During the evening, bed bugs use an anesthetic in their saliva to bite people without being detected," Foster explains. Their bites cause discomfort and itching, but are not believed to be a risk for diseases. "They are, however, extremely difficult to control." And for more breaking bug news, If You Live Here, Prepare for a Major Bug Infestation, Expert Warns.

Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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