Most people who can smell bed bug odor describe it as a berry scent.
Bed bugs have a distinct odor. Historically, bed bug’s odor has been associated with an infestation of bed bugs and it was thought that the stronger the odor, the more extensive the infestation. However, it is not possible to quantify the extent of neither the infestation nor its presences with the strength of the odor.
There are many similarly smelling items such as some berries. For this reason, it is not possible to conclusively determine that the odor is from bed bugs. Even if the berries are not present, debate can ensue whether outside air is bringing odors into the room.
Detection of the odor varies from person to person with some people working in infested areas for years and not being able to recognize bed bug’s odor at all. Climatic conditions can also affect whether the odor can be detected. Most people who can smell bed bug odor describe it as a berry scent. They also describe it as a musty or stale odor. Some liken the bed bug odor to herbs.
Scientists speculate that the sweet odor of bed bugs can be attributed to scent glands. These glands and the scent may attract other bed bugs. Other theories imply that the odor is given off when distributed and can be used as an alarm scent. In general, bed bug’s odor has not been studied extensively.
Some hope that the bed bug’s odor can be studied further to unlock the mysteries behind this scent. If the scent is certain to signal other bed bugs, it is possible that it can be mimicked synthetically so that an attractant can be developed. This could be used to lure bed bugs onto a trap for monitoring or control. Currently, some bed bug monitors use scent and other known attractants to draw bed bugs to determined whether a population is present. At this point, the bed bug’s scent chemical is not synthetically produced.