bed bug smell.(12 posts)
This topic has been talked about before on this site but I would like to give it one more shot.
What does a bb infestation smell like?
I was brave the other day and decided to smell one I had recently squished and it actually smelled faintly like a stink bug! I have heard that a mass infestation smells musky.
If you squish a bed bug and sniff it, they have a smell. You can use this as a way to confirm was a bed bug you squished. But I think Dr. Potter of the U of Kentucky said unless the infestation is extremely large, going by smell would be really hard. So you should not use it as a way to detect beg bugs.
But this can be used to train bed bug sniffing dogs.
If it is a large infestation I have read that it will have a sweet-musky smell (described similar to a raspberry-ish smell, I read elsewhere). But heaven forbid a place be so infested that you get to smell it.
Most people here do not report smelling the infestation (a single squished bug, maybe). I have heard from PCOS that they do not smell it unless it is very bad.
You can get a good idea of the smell, if you place a number of bed bugs in a jar.
The smell will be similar to a stink bug. An experienced researcher told me that the analysis profile of a stink bug with a mass spectral gas chronograph (MSGC) is very similar to that of a bed bug.
I am not sure if this is 100% accurate but I think the smell is actually arsenic or something very similar. The reason I say this is because I have found that the smell increases with the fecal traces and the feces is effectively the unwanted elements of human blood. If there is anyone in a pathology lab with access to a flame spectrophotometer this could be tested quite easily.
Not that there is a risk to humans from this level, after all it came from your body in the first place.
The main reason most people do not report the smell as a definitive sign is because it builds up with time and you are less likely to notice it creeping up on you over several months. However if you have a good sense of smell you can detect it, sometimes even from outside the property. Obviously the human sense of smell is no where near as sensitive as a dogs which is why they make good detection tools.
I have also met and even employed a few people who have claimed to be able to feel an infestation. As a previous sufferer they seem to have developed a heightened response to bed bugs and old bites start to "tingle" if they are present. Not sure if that could be taught though without some powerful NLP or hypnosis (not that I am looking for volunteers at this second).
It does however fuel some thought as to what enables one person to sense them and others to appear to live with them unaffected. I could certainly stand on a soap box and wax lyrical about the evolutionary benefits of being able to detect the presence of a blood sucking parasite feeding on your resourses but we appear to still be in the minority. Maybe be it will take a repeat of the 1850's death by bed bug (last reported coroners bed bug related cause of death) but who knows.
I had the chance to smell a netting-covered jar full of bedbugs at a bedbug convention. I couldn't smell anything. From that experience, I would agree with those here who post that it is difficult for humans to smell bedbugs unless the infestation is very large. For dogs, with their keen sense of smell, it's another matter!
I am not personally familiar with the smell of stink bugs. I was talking to a US government scientist at the ESA conference last year. He told me about the MS GC results that he had obtained on bed bugs & stink bugs.
I have maintained small colonies of bed bugs to use for dog training & I can detect the smell only in a small enclosed space like a jar with a large number of bugs. However, my K9 can detect the smell of a large infestation before we even reach the front door of the affected unit.
Doug, when you say you can smell them when there are a large # of bugs contained in the jar...how many bugs in the jar? How many bugs do you think it would take in order to smell them in an infested room? The reason I ask is because before we knew of our infestation back in April/May we had a "smell" in our bedroom and I could never figure out what it was. It was there for about 2-3 weeks if I remember correctly. I remember the smell wasn't always there, but did get more consistant and prominent as time went. I've always been a clean freak and it really freaks me out that our infestation may have gotten that large before we knew of it. It almost smelled like musty laundry, but I always kept up on that, kept our closets very neat, cleaned and vacummed weekly. I was probably always cleaning signs away and not realizing it (window moldings, walls etc..)
Oh, and we did store plastic bins of clothes under the bed...boy is THAT a thing of the past.
We did get an "all clear" from a K9 and I'm trying to move on at this point...but I'll tell ya, it's hard. I shopped today for the kids..the stuff in the original cardboard packaging...I fear even having in the house.
I have alot of other fears as well...like accepting any gifts or seeing going to any friends homes that my family visited when we were infested and didn't know it..if "I" didn't know if it for soo long it's happening to others as well...but that's for another post.
We've ripped up all the carpet on the top floor and had the HW floors refinished..but due to age and some movement...they are cracking and THAT freaks me out.
I don't think there really is anything one can do to prevent an infestation and not live a normal life. So, I tell myself that I'm more aware now, and even if it did take me months to react to the bites last time, if it happens again I should notice signs much quicker. (small kids going into school next year...clothes, books, backpacks..my chances or reinfestation I think are pretty good) After all we went through I would like to at least try to enjoy what time we have being bug free. With three toddlers, there's no way for me to come home and throw everything in the dryer w/o spreading bugs if we brought them in. I can't worry what I cannot control, so therefore, very unfortunately that limits where we go and our experiences but at least we get out now. (Sad not to see Santa this year..or have close friends over...but that's nothing in comparison to what we went thru)
Sorry to get off track and ramble...but getting back to those questions..if you know...I really would like to know. My feeling is that it probably was a whopper of an infestation. I was told "mild to moderate scatteration" I think that's because I cleaned most signs away on a regular basis w/o knowing... I even vacummed my upholstered furniture regularly do to a dog we had.
I had about forty bed bugs with eggs & feces in the container.
I am not sure how many it would take to become noticeable in a room. People can vary considerably in the sensitivity of their sense of smell.
My heart goes out to you regarding the fear of re-infestation. I think hyper-vigilance is a normal reaction given your experience. I wish I could think of something to say that would allow you to enjoy the holiday & put your mind at ease.
Doug, thanks for the reply. Holidays are a bit sad due to not seeing some family members...but knowing that it's okay to even celibrate with my children and husband is such a God sent! We did buy a little 3ft tree and my daughter was soooo excited to put the cheezy ornaments on it Her smiles of joy were the BEST! Helping her wrap a book and a first stuffed bear for her twin brother and sister was better than I could have imagined. Even though we were Vikaned, I have all my sentimental holiday stuff bagged for 18 months just in case. The house is so empty and not decorated or the holiday in the usual way. We sit on the floor in the living room but ya know what? I'm so much more at peace with my children playing. That alone is priceless. You Truly don't realize what a gift freedom is until you cannot move in your home for so long.
This holiday I plan to relax, enjoy watching my children open the few things we were able to purchase, throw a ham in the oven and play on the floor all day. Then, after the kids are in bed I'll pour me and my hubby a well deserved drink and thank God for all we DO have, not just what we lost. My mom thinks she may be getting bites again..she's not sure. But we both agree the threat of reinfestation isn't worth it for now. I know God will see us thru her ordeal as well. It's just going to take longer but not forever.
Thanks for answering my questions. Have a good Holiday
You must log in to post.