Bed bugs typically feed at night when we are sleeping. Even though these pests commonly feed for 5 minutes, the bite itself is painless and usually goes undetected at the time. In fact, bed bugs inject an anticoagulant (a blood thinner) as they feed, which makes feeding easier for the bed bug and also less detectable to you. Although you may not see the bed bugs, or feel their bites, they know when you are around. Bed bugs are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide. So, if you are alive, warm, and breathing - then you are broadcasting loudly and clearly to all nearby bed bugs that "dinner is served!"
Reactions to bed bug bites differ from person to person from none to a full-blown allergic reaction. A mild reaction may reveal flat, red bumps at the bite sites. A more severe reaction may include an irritating itch (as in my case), or swelling. Resisting the itch is incredibly difficult, but giving in to it can cause severe irritation to the skin, increasing your risk for an infection. It’s the chemicals in the bed bug’s saliva that trigger such reactions, some lasting more than two weeks.
The size of bed bug bites varies with a number of different factors. Bed bugs inject an anti-coagulant along with their saliva when they pierce the skin to take a blood meal. This anti-coagulant is mostly responsible for how a person reacts to the bite and determines the size of the bug’s bite. Since people will have various sensitivities to the bed bug’s bite, the size of the bite will vary, as well. Another factor that influences the size of a bed bug reaction is the number of times a person is bitten. Bite reactions of people bitten many times are also variable, and their response may be either more or less intense as the number of bites increases.