Do Bed Bugs Bite?

Do bed bugs bite? They actually do not bite the skin. The bed bug head is divided into halves. The lower part of their jaw is called the mandible and the upper jaw is called the maxillae. Both the bed bugs mandible and maxillae are connected together and held by what is called a labium.

The labium is a sheath which has a slit. A stylet moves through the slit which then impales  the skin of the human host. It has a canal called the maxillary canal which allows blood to be sucked back to the bed bug. So this isn't technically a bite. A  better description is that the skin is impaled with the stylet. The bed bug will attempt to impale the stylet into a skin capillary or small blood vessel.  

So do bed bugs bite? No they don't, but most information on bed bugs refers to this as a bite, although technically it isn't.

do bed bugs bite
Picture of Bed Bug

When young, a bedbug will pass through 5 stages after hatching from an egg. These are called nymphs. To pass through each stage they need to feed. Adult bedbugs live for 6 to 12 months. They will seek a blood meal every 3 to 5 days.

Bed Bug Bite Reaction

A bed bug bite reaction doesn't occur in all people. Those that do react, are experiencing an allergic reaction to anethetic and anticoagulants left behind by the bed bug. This is also referred to as bedbug saliva. Bite reactions can vary between episodes with some people getting increasingly hypersensitive to the bites while others do not.

Bites are categorized in one of the following five different stages:

  • No bed bug bite reaction
  • Delayed Reaction
  • Delayed and Immediate Reaction
  • Immediate reaction only
  • No visible reaction

An "immediate" reaction occurs within 24 hours.  Bed bugs bite reactions tend to typically go away after 1 to 2 days.

If a bed bug bite reaction is "delayed" then it will not show any symptoms for 1 to 3 days (maximum up to 14 days) after being bitten.

A bed bug can leave a single bite or multiple bites. Often a pattern of bites such as a straight line appears, indicating that you may have been sleeping near several bed bugs who were hiding, for example, along the seam of a bed. Bed bugs will move to an area of the body that is closest to their hiding place.  Areas of the body affected include the arms, legs and neck.  

Most people that show a bedbug bite reaction will have a raised, red inflammed wheal at each location where they were bitten.  Bites usually itch.  Scratching can lead to a secondary infection.

So do bed bugs bite?  Well not exactly.

do bed bugs bite
Bed Bug Bite Picture After 30 Minutes
(Photo by H. J. Harlan)

do bed bugs bite
Bed Bug Bite Photo After 48 Hours

do bed bugs bite picture
Picture of Bed Bugs Bites

photo bed bugs bite
Bed Bug Bite Picture on Leg

do bed bugs bite pictures
Bed Bug Bite Photo: Blisters from Allergic Skin Reaction

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