The saying, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” may sound like a nursery rhyme, but it’s rooted in truth. These bugs can and will bite humans, and they need blood to survive.

where do bed bugs bite

Learn more about the signs of bed bugs and what to do if you think that you’ve been bitten.

Location, Location, Location

Bed bugs will bite on virtually any area of exposed skin. This includes the face, neck, legs, arms, hands and feet. 

Signs of Bed Bug Bites

When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic contained in their saliva that prevents their hosts from feeling any discomfort. This explains why people generally do not wake up when being bitten.

Bed bug bites can be difficult to identify because they often resemble the bites of other insects, such as fleas or mosquitoes. And some people will have no reaction to bed bug bites at all and may be unaware that they’ve been bitten.

However, some symptoms that can be associated with bed bug bites include:

  • Small, red welts in zigzag lines or clusters
  • Localized itching
  • Burning
  • A rash across a localized area

Bite marks may appear one to several days after being bitten.

The presence of bed bugs can also disturb sleep patterns, leading to further complications like insomnia and anxiety.

Fortunately, bed bugs are not known to carry pathogens that may cause disease. Aside from the potential allergic reactions listed above, they are not considered a public health threat.

How Do Bed Bugs Find Hosts?

Bed bugs are resourceful pests. They typically reside in close proximity to hosts, particularly humans, and can be found under mattresses and near headboards, near bedside tables, and in tucks and seams on upholstered furniture.

Bed bugs use a variety of signals, including body heat and carbon dioxide to detect the presence of a host. A blood meal takes about 10 minutes, and after the insect is done feeding, it returns to its hiding place.

Under the right conditions, bed bugs can survive months without a meal. These cold-blooded insects also react to changes in temperature. When temperatures drop, they enter a dormant state that slows their metabolism and allows them to conserve energy. At temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, they can survive up to a year without feeding.

How Are Bed Bugs Spread?

Bed bugs are also expert travelers. They easily move from one location to another through luggage and personal belongings. In fact, they were almost eliminated in the United States after World War II until the rise of international travel brought them back into the country.

Bed bugs may commonly be found in hotels, dorm rooms and apartment buildings. You can help reduce your risk for transporting bed bugs by checking mattresses and bedding for signs of infestation and by checking any secondhand items before bringing them into your home.


If you think you’ve been bitten by bed bugs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using antiseptic creams or lotions and taking antihistamines to help reduce itching.

It’s recommended that you contact a professional for bed bug removal. These bugs are stealthy and difficult to control, and you may not notice an infestation until it is well established. The bed bug control professionals at Terminix® are trained to detect bed bugs, look for signs of an infestation and provide customized treatment options. Schedule your FREE inspection today.