If you've ever woken up with a strange bump on your body and no sign of the culprit, you have to confront the uncomfortable likelihood that a bug snuck in and snacked on you in the middle of the night. Between the popular myth that you swallow eight spiders a year in your sleep and the knowledge that there are actual bed bugs, it's no wonder people are nervous about unwelcome visitors overnight. To learn what really may be going on—and how worried you should be—read on to hear from pest experts about the seven bugs that are most likely to bite you while you're sleeping.
RELATED: If You Keep This on Your Bed, You May Be Attracting Spiders, Experts Warn.
It's no surprise that a creature called a bed bug is one of the insects most likely to bite you while you're sleeping. Entomologist and pest control expertRyan Smithsays bed bugs are probably the most common nocturnal bug and they love hiding out in your mattress. "A bad infestation of bed bugs can cause people to wake up and have trouble sleeping as a result of their biting," he says.
According to Vulcan Termite and Pest Control, one way to know if you have bed bugs is by identifying dark stains left on the sheets from where they've excreted or fed. "Bed bugs are most active an hour or two before sunrise when you're still fast asleep," according to Vulcan. "Once the sun comes up, they hide away under the mattress and in nearby crevices."
Pest expertJordan Fostersays these bugs only feed for a few minutes, but you could wake up with multiple bites if a host of them are feasting on you. Per Foster, bed bug bites are often painless at first but can turn into itchy welts, most commonly found on exposed skin. These pests prefer nibbling armpits, around the neck, behind the knee, and the inner thighs.
If you have pets in your home, you're more likely to get bitten by fleas at night, especially if your furry friend sleeps with you. "Fleas are always searching for easy prey, which means they might feast on you while you sleep," Smith says.
Unlike bed bugs, fleas tend to bite around the ankles. These bugs leave extremely itchy, red, and sometimes sore bites behind. According to Foster, flea bites can even lead to hives or a rash. He warns against scratching flea bites because it could result in an infection.
RELATED: 9 Cleaning Habits That Attract Spiders.
The good news: "Spiders are predators that typically eat bugs, so their mouth parts are adapted for that, and not for biting people," according to Charles van Rees, conservation scientist and editor-in-chief ofGulo in Nature. The bad news: When they do decide to bite a human, it can cause a lot of problems.
"Spider bites are almost always the result of a spider feeling threatened, being injured, or otherwise trying to defend itself," van Rees explains. "Because of their predatory habits and need to subdue prey, nearly all spiders are venomous. While for the most part, their venom is intended for much smaller and very different prey than large mammals like us or our pets, it can sometimes be pretty harmful. This is especially true for species like the brown recluse and black widow. Even bites from common house spiders, however, can cause a lot of irritation and potentially tiny amounts of necrosis (local tissue death)."
So, what attracts spiders to your bed? According to van Rees, it's other pests that initially draw them in. "Avoid having crumbs, food packaging, open water (like left-out bottles, cans, glasses), large piles of clothes, or other items around your bed. These are all likely to attract insects, which in turn will attract spiders to hunt them."
You've probably woken up with the familiar itch of mosquito bites many times before. Once one of these pests begins feeding on you with its long tube-like mouth, it's likely to keep going, which can result in a fair amount of itchy bites.
"Most species are most active in early morning or dusk," notes van Rees. "Female mosquitoes bite people to get the nutrition that they need to make eggs. They cue in on movement, color contrast, and most importantly, the carbon dioxide from our breath to find us."
In van Rees' experience, the way most modern households encounter mosquito bites at night is that the insect actually arrived during the day. "Getting by unseen on corners of the ceiling or perched on the wall, they can come find you at bedtime when you're in one place for hours, giving them time to hone in on your smell."
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Ticks are especially dangerous, as their bites can lead to Lyme Disease. While you're not likely to have a tick in your bed, if one attached to you during the day, "it would embed at night," says Megan Wede, co-owner of Done Right Pest Solutions.
According to Andrew Greess, owner of QSpray, which sells pest control, landscaping, and termite equipment, you should be concerned about ticks if you've gone hiking or live in a wooded, grassy area. "These small arachnids feed on blood and are likely to hitch a ride on your shoes or clothing—waiting for a time when you're relatively still or sleeping to dig their tiny, sharp teeth into your skin," he says.
To prevent a tick bite at night, Greess recommends checking yourself thoroughly after being in outdoor areas and having someone else check the body parts you cannot see. If you have a dog, you'll want to check them, too.
According to WebMD, "Mites are tiny bugs in the tick and spider family" of which there are thousands of species, each with its own "eating, biting, and bloodsucking habits." Pest experts say, however, that certain species are more likely to bite you while you're sleeping.
"One of the more common biting bugs that we find in people's beds are bird mites or rodent mites," saysDiana Ludwiczak, a NYC-certified bed bug and pest inspector and owner of Doctor Sniffs Bed Bug Dogs. "These are blood-sucking parasites that start biting humans when their host either leaves or is killed." She notes that their bites are often misidentified as being from bed bugs.
As the names suggest, rodent mites feast on mice or rats, while bird bites may get inside "if you have birds or a birds nest on the balcony/deck of your bedroom," explains Wede.
John Melchior, owner of Kapture Pest Control, notes that mites bite people at night because they are "easy targets (not moving) with a slowed blood flow."
A specific type of mite, chiggers are tiny red bugs that can result in very itchy bites. "People are the main source of food for chiggers," Foster says. "This small, minuscule insect attaches itself to the skin, remaining tight for a few days, and then falls off."
Vulcan notes that you're most likely to get a chigger bite during the spring, summer, or fall while camping or sleeping outdoors. But Wede adds that, since they're often found in yards with taller grass and/or a backyard pool, they "can come inside on clothing or towels."
Wede adds that chigger bites can be "misdiagnosed as a dermatological or skin condition," since they're very tiny and appear almost like a rash.
What is biting me at night but not bed bugs? ›
Besides bedbugs, numerous insects bite at night. These night biters can be mites, fleas, mosquitoes, lice, spiders, and ticks. Most of these insect bite marks look alike; hence, you should first look for bedbugs and investigate further.What could be mistaken for bed bug bites? ›
Bed bug bites
Each cluster usually contains 3 to 5 bites that appear in a zigzag pattern. You'll seldom see bed bugs, so many people mistakenly believe that mosquitoes, fleas, or spiders bit them. Sometimes people mistake bed bug bites for a common skin condition such as an itchy rash, hives, or chickenpox.
The most common insect known for biting people while they are sleeping is the bed bug. If you wake up with multiple bites that are painless at first but become itchy welts over time, especially around your armpits, neck, behind your knee, or on your inner thighs, then you might be dealing with a bed bug infestation.How do you get rid of invisible biting mites? ›
Take a hot, soapy bath and scrub your skin with a washcloth to get rid of the actual mites. Itching from mite bites can become very intense, but it can be relieved by using an allergy medication or applying hydrocortisone cream to the affected area.How do you know whats biting me in my sleep? ›
Look for clusters of bug bite marks together on the face, neck, arms, hands or any other body parts, especially after sleeping. They resemble mosquito bites and are often itchy and appear slightly swollen and red. Some people have no reaction to bed bugs and won't notice bite marks.What does bed mites look like? ›
Dust mites can be difficult to detect due to their small size. These microscopic arthropods are estimated to be only 1/4 to 1/3 millimeters long. You can only see them under a microscope, and even then, they only look like small white spider-like creatures.Where do bed bugs hide on your body? ›
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide on Your Body? Bed bugs do not typically hide on the body. They prefer to feed, then move back to their hiding place until they are hungry again. In some cases, they may hide in your clothes or the soles of your shoes.Can you have bites but no signs of bedbugs? ›
Bedbugs bites can look similar to other insect bites or skin conditions. The best way to know if you're dealing with bedbugs is to look for evidence of the bugs in your home. If you think your bites may be from bedbugs, but you can't find any evidence of them in your home, you may want to see a doctor.Where do bed bugs usually bite? ›
Where on the body do bedbug bites occur? Bedbugs can bite any part of your body. However, they'll normally bite areas of skin that are exposed while you sleep. This includes your face, neck, arms, and hands.What does rubbing alcohol do to bedbugs? ›
Alcohol works two ways to kill bedbugs. First, it acts as a solvent, which means it eats away the bug's outer shell. The dissolving action might be enough to kill some bedbugs, but alcohol delivers a one-two punch. It also acts as a desiccant, a substance that induces drying out.
How do I stop being bitten? ›
Basic precautions to prevent insect bites and stings
wear shoes when outdoors. apply insect repellent to exposed skin – repellents that contain 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide) are most effective. avoid using products with strong perfumes, such as soaps, shampoos and deodorants – these can attract insects.
Household products or environmental irritants could cause hives or rashes. If no pests can be found and the irritation doesn't seem to match any of the most common bug bite pictures, you may be experiencing a skin reaction to a household product or environmental irritant. Consider the location of the rash.What kills bed mites? ›
Wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bedcovers in hot water that is at least 130 F (54.4 C) to kill dust mites and remove allergens. If bedding can't be washed hot, put the items in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at a temperature above 130 F (54.4 C) to kill the mites.What kills mites on your skin? ›
Permethrin is a skin cream with chemicals that kill mites that cause scabies and their eggs. It's generally considered safe for adults, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and children over 2 months old.
Exposure to mites can lead to patches of small, red bumps on the skin accompanied by the following respiratory symptoms: nasal congestion and sneezing. itchy, red, or watery eyes. itchy nose, mouth, or throat.What are little black bugs that bite? ›
Flies Often Called Black Gnats
In addition to black gnats, people also refer to biting midges as no-see-ums, sand flies, or punkies. These pests may look like just a dark speck to the naked eye, but their bites create a noticeable burning sensation. Biting midges may leave behind itchy welts on skin.
Chigger bites are itchy red bumps that can look like pimples, blisters, or small hives. They are usually found around the waist, ankles, or in warm skin folds. They get bigger and itchier over several days, and often appear in groups.How do I know what kind of bug bite I have? ›
Flea bites leave an itchy welt on the skin, often on the ankles and legs. Mosquitoes leave a raised, itchy pink skin bump or in rare cases a severe allergic reaction. Spider bites cause minor symptoms like red skin, swelling, and pain at the site or very serious symptoms that need emergency care.How do I know if my bed has dust mites? ›
How do I know if I have them in my bed? Mites aren't visible without a microscope, so instead, you have to analyze your symptoms. People who are allergic to them may experience sneezing, coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, and itching.What can I spray on my mattress for dust mites? ›
You can spray your mattress, pillows, carpets and soft furnishings with a gentle allergen-neutralising treatment like HomeCleanse. When used according to the instructions, it can reduce your exposure to allergens by up to 90%. Rather than killing the mites, HomeCleanse simply denatures the mite allergens.
How do you check for dust mites in your bed? ›
You are looking for arachnids that look like tiny spiders, but are translucent and do not have eyes or antennae. Dust mites will crawl over each other, and have short hairs all over their bodies. You may also look for dust mite feces--these look like small rectangular pellets.What bugs can live in your hair? ›
The type of insect you're most likely to find in your hair is the head louse. But fleas, bedbugs, or ants may also temporarily live on your scalp. It's also possible to mistake a scalp condition, like dandruff or psoriasis, for lice.Does showering get rid of bed bugs? ›
Showering using soap and water is sufficient to remove bed bugs from your person. Wash your work clothes and dry them completely in a clothes dryer. Once dry, run the clothes on high heat for an additional 30 minutes to make certain that any bed bugs transferred from the washing machine are dead.Can you eliminate bed bugs yourself? ›
Bed bugs are hard to control, but you can do it! Using insecticides alone to control bed bugs is not the best solution. Cleaning, getting rid of clutter and taking a few other steps are just as important as applying insecticide when you're trying to control bed bugs.What do bedbug bites look like on skin? ›
small red bumps or welts in a zigzag pattern or a line. small red bumps surrounded by blisters or hives. papular eruptions or areas of skin with raised or flat patches that may be inflamed. small spots of blood from bites often dried or stained onto sheets or bed clothing.Do bed bugs stay in mattress or bed? ›
Bed Bugs will try to live as close to their food source as possible. They can often be found directly on the mattress in the tufts and folds, along the seam, and even inside the mattress. They can also be found in the box-spring, bed frame, headboard and furniture near the bed.What attracts bed bugs? ›
Reality: Bed bugs are not attracted to dirt and grime; they are attracted to warmth, blood and carbon dioxide. However, clutter offers more hiding spots.What kills bed bugs instantly baking soda? ›
Myth. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that baking soda is a successful home remedy for bed bugs. Baking soda actually breaks down when it comes into contact with water, so the idea that it can absorb the thick fluids found on a bed bug shell is quite questionable.What kills bed bugs instantly rubbing alcohol? ›
Alcohol can kill bed bugs, but this depends on the amount of concentration of the rubbing alcohol since a solution at 70% and 91% isopropyl concentration can do the trick. This solvent dissolves their outer cells and dries them until they die.Does rubbing alcohol keep bed bugs off you? ›
Bed bugs are hard to deal with, but you can repel them by using rubbing alcohol. They hate the smell of alcohol and using it is an effective solution to your problem. The rubbing alcohol can dry out bed bugs bodies, which can eventually lead to their death.
How do I avoid getting bitten at night? ›
Wear appropriate clothing. If you know you're going to be out at night or hiking in a densely-wooded area, dress appropriately to prevent bug bites. Cover exposed skin as much as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks and closed shoes instead of sandals.Why am I being bitten so much? ›
Several specific factors can attract mosquitoes, including the carbon dioxide you exhale, your body odor, and your body temperature. A combination of these factors likely makes certain people more attractive to mosquitoes.What drink keeps mosquitoes away? ›
Lemongrass contains an oil called citronella, a common mosquito repellent. Swap your summer glass of lemonade for a chilled glass of lemongrass tea or carefully use lemongrass oil on your skin for a quick mosquito repellent.Does baking soda get rid of bed mites? ›
Mix one cup of baking soda with a few drops of essential oil of your choice. Then simply sprinkle baking soda on the mattress and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then vacuum it all off using the hose attachment to suck up all the baking soda fully. . This will suck up the dust mites along with the baking soda.What smell do mites hate? ›
Essential oils contain compounds that repel or kill insects, including dust mites. The best essential oils for getting rid of dust mites are clove, rosemary, and eucalyptus oil. Add 20 drops of oil to four ounces of witch hazel, and spray your mattress, couch, drapes, and other dust mite hangouts.Are bed mites in every bed? ›
Dust mites can live in the bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets or curtains in your home. Dust mites are nearly everywhere; roughly four out of five homes in the United States have dust mite allergens in at least one bed.What household cleaner kills mites? ›
Spray Lysol on dust surfaces to kill dust mites
After cleaning dust surfaces with a vacuum, apply and spray Lysol on your furniture and fabrics.
Sulfur (Sulphur) Soap is antibacterial AND anti-fungal, as well as drying, thus helping to kill the mites and dehydrate them.What disinfectant kills mites? ›
Killing dust mites in your curtains, clothes, and bedding
All you'll need is a washing machine, dryer, food-grade hydrogen peroxide 3%, and laundry detergent. The heat from the hot water and the antimicrobial properties of the hydrogen peroxide 3% are sure to kick those mangy mites to the curb.
The mites cannot be seen and the bites are not felt, but leave itchy red marks that can resemble a skin rash. When itch mite populations 'explode,' people and other animals may receive numerous bites. Fortunately, the mites cannot live on humans, do not survive indoors, and are not known to transmit disease.
What do mite bites look like on a human? ›
Intense itching and many small, red bumps, like pimples, are seen. Burrows may also be seen. These look like thin, wavy lines.
Rash: Many people get the scabies rash. This rash causes little bumps that often form a line. The bumps can look like hives, tiny bites, knots under the skin, or pimples. Some people develop scaly patches that look like eczema.What is biting me at night while I sleep? ›
The main insects that may be biting you as you sleep are bed bugs, mosquitos, fleas, gnats and midges. If you would like to know which of these insects are biting you as you sleep, you'll need to look at the type of bite you have.How can you tell the difference between bed bug bites and mites? ›
The wounds caused by bed bug bites are characterized by raised red bumps, similar to what you'd see with a mosquito bite. In some people, bed bug bites can result in large, swollen welts. Dust mites, on the other hand, don't actually bite you.What kind of bug only comes out at night? ›
Bed bugs, house centipedes, and crickets are all nocturnal pests. They come out at night to hunt for food, look for mates, and seek sources of moisture. Mosquitoes tend to become more active at night, too, because it's much cooler.What do bed bugs look like on sheets? ›
Looking for Signs of Bed Bugs
Dark spots (about this size: ), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would. Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.
How do I know if I have them in my bed? Mites aren't visible without a microscope, so instead, you have to analyze your symptoms. People who are allergic to them may experience sneezing, coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, and itching.What kind of bugs can infest your bed? ›
- Bat bugs.
- Spider beetles.
- Dust mites.
- Carpet beetles.
- Cockroach nymphs.
Face Mites, also known as Demodex mites are parasitic insects that live and feed on your face. What is even more startling is that while you are asleep at night, these mites emerge out of the pores of your skin, mate and then go back inside. Then they proceed on laying their eggs on your face as well.What are black bugs that come out at night? ›
If the tiny black bugs have wings, they're probably gnats.
Ghosts tend to swarm around dusk and can be found in open spaces such as a large field or above a street. Depending on their species, some gnats feed on crop pests, while others are crop pests.