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These Smells Could Mean You Have Bed Bugs, Pest Experts Say

Certain scents in your home may mean it's time to call an exterminator.

As one of the tiniest pests that can make their way into your home, bed bugs can be difficult to spot. However, in addition to keeping your eyes open, your nose may come in handy when trying to detect an infestation. According to pest experts, there are a couple of very specific scents that could mean you have bed bugs. Keep reading to get the specifics on these smells, as well as other indicators that bed bugs are present.

RELATED: 5 Smells That Mean Mice Have Invaded Your Home.

Bed bugs can smell musty and sweet like berries.

Bed Bugs Colony in Mattress

"Similar to a heavy cockroach infestation, there can be a distinct odor with a heavy bed bug infestation," says Ben Hottel, technical services manager at Orkin.

Christian Tweed, the renewal specialist at Clark's Termite & Pest Control, describes the smell as musty, mildew-like, and sweet: "In extremely heavy infestations, there can be a soured, sweet smell. I've heard this compared to rotten raspberries."

This smell usually only arises if "many of them are squashed or disturbed," explains Nicholas Martin, professional pest control specialist and entomologist. So you may not notice it if it's the beginning of an infestation.

Hottel also points out that this scent might go unnoticed by an average person, but professionals who work in pest control will have an easier time picking up on it.

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

Close up of Bed Bug
Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock

Bed bugs release pheromones when they feel they're in peril to alert other bugs to danger. The scent "is an effective way for the pests to communicate and remain hidden," Foster 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," Martin 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 that of a stink bug.

RELATED: 8 Signs of a Bug Infestation You Should Never Ignore, Exterminators Say.

There are other signs of a bed bug infestation to look for.

Mattress with Bed Bugs

In addition to smelling odors, Foster says 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.

Tweed also points out that the golden-brown exoskeletons the bugs leave behind are key indicators of an infestation.

Unfortunately, these bugs may not be confined solely to your bed. Martin says you should inspect all other soft furnishings like couches and chairs. "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."

Remember, bed bugs feast on your body at night.

Bed Bug Bites on Arm
Pashu Ta Studio/Shutterstock

Bed bugs are the most active at night. "They like to hang out in small cracks and crevices around beds, couches, or other areas where people stay in one spot for several hours," says Tyler Hawkins, region field manager at Fox Pest Control. "Because of this, bedbugs are often not noticed until the infestation increases. Adult bedbugs are the size and shape of an apple seed."

Besides taking over your space, 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," Foster adds.

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Courtney Shapiro
Courtney Shapiro is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Before joining the Best Life team, she had editorial internships with BizBash and Anton Media Group. Read more
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