When managing bed bugs, recognizing the scent of these pests is important. Generally, the smell won’t become super apparent until you’re experiencing an infestation. However, you still want to know what they smell like and why they stink when you kill them.

Bed bugs smell when you kill them because they release a pheromone that alerts other bed bugs of their death. This reaction acts as a sort of warning for the group and is meant to help the other bugs escape danger.

In the rest of this article, I’ll go over what dead and live bed bugs smell like and the best way to detect these pests’ presence in your home. So, if you want to learn more about why bed bugs stink when you kill them, be sure to keep reading.

What Dead Bed Bugs Smell Like

Like a common stink bug, bed bugs give off a foul odor when threatened. As you can imagine, this odor is meant to deter predators and other potential threats. This warning smell can also go off when they’re killed, but what exactly does a dead bed bug smell like?

Dead bed bugs smell like a mix of musty and sweet. The scent may be milder when one or two bugs are killed. However, the more you kill, the more pungent the smell will be. This is because if you squish a bed bug, its scent glands get smashed and release all the smells contained within.

Ultimately, it’s not a pleasant smell, and squishing stink bugs can result in bloody stains on your furniture because bed bugs are full of the blood they feed on. In addition, these stains can add to the funk that accompanies these creatures.

What Live Bed Bugs Smell Like

So you’re probably wondering how the smell of live bed bugs compares to that of dead ones. Well, the scents have their similarities and differences. Bed bugs are pretty smelly when they come together in large numbers but can be harder to sniff out when there are just a few.

Live bed bugs are known to smell sweet or like cilantro. But in larger groups, they might smell like iron or dirty laundry. In addition, the scent can significantly change based on the number of bed bugs present. Therefore, using your nose to detect bed bugs is not the most effective method.

So if you detect a strange odor in your home, it’s always a good idea to check for these bugs since they can quickly get out of hand.

Large groups of bed bugs are often said to smell like:

  • Mildewed laundry
  • Stinky shoes
  • Blood
  • Rust

These scents indicate that many bed bugs may be in your home — and, most likely, your bed.

What a handful of bed bugs smell like:

  • Cilantro
  • Raspberries
  • Almonds

The Best Way to Detect Bed Bugs

Detecting bed bugs early is the key to preventing infestations. But it can be challenging to flush out the hiding places of these pests in your home. Luckily, I’ll be going over the best ways to detect bed bugs in your home.

Here’s how to find bed bugs hidden in your house:

  • Check your skin. If your skin has swollen and itchy bites on it, there’s a good chance bed bugs are nibbling on you at night.
  • Search your bedding for stains. Dried blood stains can signify bed bugs being squashed as you sleep at night.
  • Look for dark brown spots on fabrics. These spots are the bugs’ feces and can stain your bedding or other fabrics. The spots may look similar to a marker stain since they can bleed into fabrics a bit.
  • Look for signs of eggs. Bed bug eggs are tiny, white larvae-looking things. They tend to be laid in dark crevices.
  • Check under your mattress. Bed bugs hide under mattresses and other places where they feel they can remain undetected.

If you suspect a bed bug infestation, the best action is to call an exterminator immediately. Having bed bugs removed professionally is essential because these infestations can be challenging to fully eradicate, and the chemicals used can be pretty harsh.

Final Words

Bed bugs give off a foul smell when they’re killed because their scent glands have been crushed, and they’re excreting a warning smell to alert other bed bugs of danger. The smell can be unpleasant, like soiled laundry or blood.

Killing bed bugs can also result in unwanted stains since they’re generally full of blood, so it’s best to have them removed by a professional.

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