Why Do Bed Bugs Not Bite Everyone?

Bed bugs need a regular supply of blood to survive. For some reason, you’re covered in bed bug bites while your partner isn’t affected at all. You’re no doubt wondering why this is the case.

Bed bugs typically bite everyone, but 50% of people don’t react to bites, meaning they get no spots. Bed bugs may only infest one side of the bed, or have a blood type preference. They might be in someone else’s bed, but not yours. You might also be bitten by a different type of bug, or repel them without realizing what they’re doing.

There are many reasons why bed bugs bite one person and ignore others. There are also many myths about why bed bugs are disinterested in your partner which are accepted as the truth.

Why Are Bed Bugs Not Biting Me?

Some reasons are due to physical restrictions, and others are because you’re more appealing to them. Or they might be biting you, but you don’t know it.

Do Bed Bug Bites Always Swell?

Bed bug bites swell because of the histamine response. This is the body’s natural immune response to something it thinks is toxic. It’s also responsible for allergies.

However, not everybody’s body is the same. Some people are allergic to peanuts, for example, while others aren’t. In the same way, some people’s bodies don’t react to bed bug bites.

In practice, this means that some people’s bed bug bites don’t swell up. They might be biting you, but your body isn’t reacting. This explains why you don’t get bitten when you sleep in the same bed as someone that does.

The bed bugs in the mattress likely feed on you as much as the other person. They feed in the same way, and take the same amount of blood. The only difference is that your bites don’t swell up.

This is by far the most likely reason one of you is bitten, and one of you isn’t.

Do Bed Bugs Infest Every Room?

Do you live with a roommate or family member that is bitten regularly? Are you left untouched? The reason could be that the bed bugs haven’t reached your room yet.

Bed bug infestations start with a single female. She escapes her current harborage, and searches for a new place to lay her eggs. This could be by moving elsewhere in the same room. It could also be by hitching a ride in a person’s bag, and finding a new house.

Once there, she will find a secure place to lay her eggs. She will then continue feeding and laying eggs for several months, after being fertilized just once. Eventually, she will mate with her offspring and produce more eggs.

In this way, an infestation can start in one room. It can take a long time for them to attempt to find another room to infest. It’s only once all available spots are taken that a female tries to find a new room/house.

why bed bugs only bite one person

Do Bed Bugs Have a Blood Type Preference?

You may also be getting more or fewer bites than a partner because of blood type. Bed bugs have a preference for blood type, and stick to it where it’s available.

Their preference is based on what they grew up with. When bed bugs grow up feeding on O positive blood, they’ll feed on O positive in the future. The same applies to other blood types.

To be clear, there isn’t one blood type that bed bugs prefer over all others. Instead, it’s a matter of their taste. They can feed on any blood.

This could explain why your partner is consistently bitten, while the bugs leave you alone.

Where Do Bed Bugs Live?

You may also be getting a disproportionate number of bites because of the location. Unless you have a large infestation, the harborage will be on one side of the mattress. It could be on the left or right, or under any of the four corners.

This especially applies if there are hardly any bed bugs. If there are only five, and they live near one person, that one person will be a bit more.

Bed bugs are attracted to the closest food source they can find. They don’t wander around hoping that they find you. They sniff out the smells of CO2 and skin, and seek out your warmth to find you.

If the harborage is on the left of the mattress, the person on the left gets bitten more. Whichever person they’re nearest to will be bitten disproportionately. The only exception is if there are bed bugs under every corner of the mattress.

Does Washing Before Bed Stop Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are attracted to the smell of human skin. They pick up on the pheromones we give off naturally in our sweat. This is proven by the fact that bed bugs are attracted to dirty clothes.

You could, therefore, wash before bed, which might to an extent stop them from finding you. If you do, but your partner doesn’t, it might explain why you get fewer bites. This is untested in a scientific setting, however, so it’s unclear whether it works.

Plus, there are still other things they’re attracted to. They still seek out body heat and carbon dioxide. It’s unlikely that washing will make that much of a difference.

It Might Not Be Bed Bugs

There’s a chance that the bite marks might not be bed bug bites. They could be any one of several skin conditions, or bites from other things. Similar conditions include:

Any of these issues could be affecting you, but not your partner.

You Might Not Notice the Bed Bug Bites

The bites could be in specific locations that you can’t see. If they’re on the small of your back, for example, they’re more challenging to spot. Especially compared to bites on your arms or legs.

This applies if the bites aren’t itchy. If they don’t itch, and they’re in a location that’s hard to see, you’re unlikely to spot them.

They’re Wearing Bed Bug Repellent

You or your partner may be unwittingly repelling bed bugs. Certain everyday substances can be toxic and repel bed bugs. These include essential oils.

If your partner applies essential oils, this may be encouraging the bed bugs to bite you instead. There are also several ways that you could accidentally use oils:

  • In shampoo or conditioner
  • Through body wash
  • Through perfumes

With one person wearing a weak repellent, they might experience fewer bites.

Do Bed Bugs Prefer Females or Males?

Certain insects, like mosquitoes, are proven to prefer women. The exact reasons why are unclear. People suggest it may be due to different hormones, or even due to the menstrual cycle.

As of yet, no solid evidence exists to prove which sex bed bugs prefer. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence, as some people are convinced that they prefer men or women. However, this can be explained by peoples’ partners not reacting to the bites.

As for evidence that bed bugs prefer women, no scientists have studied the question. It’s possible, but unproven.

Do Bed Bugs Prefer Certain Colors?

The final point is that bed bugs prefer certain colors to others. According to PLoS One, they prefer red and black over lighter colors. The reason is that they search out these colors for their harborages. The darker the harborage, the safer they are.

This may make a difference based on the pajamas you wear. If you wear dark red or black pajamas, these preferred colors may attract them.

However, the extent of what this matters is unclear. One issue is that these preferences refer specifically to harborage locations. What attracts a bed bug to a harborage is different from what attracts them to a feeding site.

Also, bed bugs search for open skin. If anything, they would bite people who wear no pajamas more than those who wear black ones. That’s because pajamas cover some of the skin, making it difficult for the bed bug to feed.

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Lou Carter

Hi, I'm Lou. I’ve long been fascinated by bed bugs, ever since a friend’s life was turned upside down. That’s why I’ve put together this specialist site. You’ll find detailed answers to all of your questions on how to get rid of a bed bug infestation. I hope you find it useful!

4 thoughts on “Why Do Bed Bugs Not Bite Everyone?”

  1. While you may say they don’t prefer a blood type i am going to say they do. Mosquitos do. I am O+ my ex was B+, not sure what my sister is, well my sis lived with us bed bugs infested the couch where my sister sleot, she had brought them frim a friends house. They would leave the couch, crawl over my ex to get to me. My sis had a few bites, my ex had a couple…but i was COVERED

  2. I’m O+ as well, and I’m the only person in this house of 4 people, 3 male 1 female… that gets bit. My boyfriend thinks I’m crazy that there are bed bugs since I’m the only one. We even had a professional heat treatment done, and yet it still didn’t kill them.

  3. I’m A+ and my hubby O+ and we had them under both our bed frames right next to each other. He never got one bite I’m covered and we sleep right next to each other. Might I add we had a lot of them!! Cause I figured it was mosquitoes cause he would be getting bites to if it was bed bugs right!?!? Till I saw one moving on my bed when I woke up. We found the invasion when we flipped over our electric bed frames in all 4 corners of both our frames.


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