How do bed bugs smell?

To recognize smell of bed bugs is important because you want to be sure if they’re around or not by smelling them. So, what do bed bugs smell like?

Bed bugs

If you are in doubt about the existence of bed bugs, to see them with naked eye will be the best way to be sure. Bed bugs are 1 to 5 mm sized and oval-shaped bugs. They have no wings and have 6 legs.

Here you can find some photos of bed bugs:

Smell of bugs

Most bugs will smell when they walk around or you can smell them when they’re dead and their bodies are lying down on your floor.

It’s very hard to differentiate the smell of each bugs. Recognizing and remembering the smell is usually about personal experiences on every bug and smell it before because of any reason.

how do bed bugs smell

Bed bug smell

There is no certain way to say how bed bugs smell. Because defining a smell is one of the most difficult things in this world.

What I can do is to bring you some descriptions of bed bug smell made before by others. I got these definitions from social media after a long research:

“It smells woody/irony when alive.”

“I have a very acute sense of smell and never noticed a smell.”

“They smell kinda like dirt and blood mixed”

“I noticed a general musty smell”

“They smell like musty/moldy raspberries to me.”

“Rotten crayons”

“Woody to me”

“Kind of like a stink bug”

“Old mildew sheets dried outside on a hot day”

“It’s a bit like coriander and cilantro and citronella and a bit like raspberry. An infestation has a bit rustier smell due to the digested blood feces oxidizing”

“It smells moldy bad”

“If it is a large infestation I have read that it will have a sweet-musky smell”

Do bed bugs smell like stink bug?

What do bed bugs smell like when you kill them?

It’s a greater possibility to smell bed bugs after they die rather than when they’re alive. Here are some other descriptions about how dead bed bugs smell:

“After I squished bed bug I ever saw that they smelled really gross and it was like strong b.o. mixed with that stink bug smell.”

“If they’ve just fed, you will smell of blood”

Do bed bugs smell?

Those comment above are defining how bed bugs smell. But a lot of people who met bed bug in their home still say that bed bugs do not smell.

So I believe that smelling something depends on people’s own smelling abilities and there is no such a certain answer to that question.

Let’s take a look at our options one by one.

Do bed bugs smell like skunk

Do bed bugs smell like skunk?

Bed bug smell and skunk smell! That would be an interesting allegation which seems hard to be proved. But as I said above, bed bugs can smell like stink bug and stink bug odor is described as similar to stunk smell. So, maybe bed bugs can smell like a skunk.

Do bed bugs smell like urine?

Do bed bugs smell like urine or cat pee?

Any of us should know how urine smells and most insects really smell like urine. But I have never heard from nobody about a bed bug smelling like urine. So I believe that we can eliminate this option. I must say the same thing for cat pee too.

Do bed bugs smell like mold?

Do bed bugs smell like mold?

Yes, this can be the strongest option. Most people verify this by their own experiences with bed bugs.

Bed bugs are described as producing a musty odor and it’s possible to smell like wet moldy clothes or moldy shoes around.


What do bed bugs smell like? Musty, woody, irony or bloody? I must say that a bed bug can smell like every single of those alternatives. Because smelling ability depends on people’s own experiences and anyone can get a different smell.

While some people say that bed bugs smell, others still claim that they never smell. I personally think that it’s almost impossible to find bed bugs around by smelling them.

But when they died, as bodies of all alive do, their bodies should smell after a certain time.  Maybe you can smell them if they die, however this depends where they died and how close they are to you.


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