eponysterical i know
November 29, 2011 9:19 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting mysterious bug bites while I'm sleeping - can you help me figure out what's biting me?

Here is all the information I have:

The bites appear all over my body, arms, legs, hands, neck - they are isolated bites, not in the bedbug line pattern. I usually get about 3 every night, and a couple if i take a nap.

They seem to be pretty small bites, but I am allergic to them so they occasionally appear giant (1-2 inches across) - but if I take benadryl, the swelling goes down, and they are actually small bites.

They itch really badly for 2-3 days, then they stop itching and go away. Again, this seems to imply not-bedbugs.

My girlfriend sleeps in the bed with me, and she hasn't had a single bite. (We are both women, if that matters). She says mosquitos rarely bite her (these are almost certainly not mosquito bites).

We put an anti-bedbug mattress cover on the mattress, and didn't see any bedbugs or fleas or anything at all.

In fact, we haven't seen a single bug of any type this whole time.

This has been going on for about two weeks - it started very suddenly.

I went to my parents house for 4 days over Thanksgiving. I got bites the first night I was at their house, but none the remaining 3 nights. My girlfriend got no bites when I was at their house. I got bites as soon as I came back home.

We have a dog, and she takes flea medicine. She recently switched to a new type, but we're going to switch her back to the old kind in a few days in case it's flea bits (but, we haven't seen any fleas).

I can easily go to the doctor, if that would be helpful - but I am reluctant to go if all my doctor would say is "you have unidentified bug bites."

posted by insectosaurus to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
Bedbugs is the obvious answer.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:28 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are the bites often in a row of three? That's the characteristic "breakfast, lunch, and dinner" pattern of bedbugs.
posted by Yowser at 9:34 AM on November 29, 2011

Despite your suggestion that it is not bed bugs, that is still the most likely answer. Bed bug bites don't always follow an obvious pattern and, as with mosquitoes, some people don't get swelling/itching as a result of bed bug bites. This would explain why your girlfriend doesn't appear to be getting bitten.

Depending on what exactly the bites look like, they might actually be eczema, rather than bites. This can be caused for all sorts of reasons. If it is directly tied to your bed, then you may have a dust mite allergy.

My guess is still bed bugs, though.
posted by asnider at 9:34 AM on November 29, 2011

I shouuld learn to read. Sorry... anyways, bed bugs don't necessarily bite in a line. Get an exterminator for look for critters, you don't want an infestation!!
posted by Yowser at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2011

Sounds like my experence with birdmites.

A couple years ago I had a bed infested with bird mites. we never saw a bug, obsessivly checked for bedbugs and found nothing- but the frequancy of bites increased and became unbearable. Finally we called an exterminator- who told us how to get rid of them. We had to toss the bed and treat the window that they came in. after that, not a bite since.

really the answer is call a pro if you can't figure it out.
posted by Blisterlips at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2011

A friend of mine just dealt with biting midges (which bite constantly and are practically invisible) coming through her bedroom window. If you live somewhere wet and not too cold yet, it could be that (though the fact that you started getting them somewhere else and brought them home with you seems to indicate something else).
posted by stoneandstar at 9:41 AM on November 29, 2011

Hmm, bird mites is an interesting thought, and nthing that an exterminator is probably the ultimate answer. Everyone is going to say bedbugs, however, does your dog sleep in the bed with you ever, or in your bedroom on a rug near the bed? If so, it still could be fleas. I am one of those people that fleas absolutely love to chomp on, so when they are around they bite me first and leave my husband alone. An allergy is also a possibility as well, either to dust mites, your dog's new flea medicine, etc., etc. ... Have you tried taking a dose of the Benadryl daily, to see if you get any more of these bites while you are taking it (i.e. if not, it may be some kind of allergy?).
posted by gudrun at 9:44 AM on November 29, 2011

This exact same thig happened to me (also a lady). I got lots of bites and my girlfriend didn't get any and our pets didn't have any fleas - the dog sleeps in our room, but not in our bed. We ended up washing all mammal bedding in really hot water (multiple times) and dry-cleaning our duvet (just once). We also vacuumed like crazy for several days in a row. I never figured out what had been biting me, but it stopped.

P.S. whatever you do don't google "bed bug bites".
posted by vakker at 9:49 AM on November 29, 2011

Not everyone reacts the same to bed bug bites.

I hardly react to them at all, and easily slept through our infestation before my girlfriend at the time started staying over and getting bites.

Your gf, like me, may just be relatively immune.

Look up pictures of bed bugs online. Set an alarm for the middle of the night, wake up, turn the lights on and throw your covers off.

Try not to scream if I'm right.
posted by edguardo at 9:55 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Almost definitely bedbugs.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:00 AM on November 29, 2011

I didn't notice the part about fleas the first time, but fleas are bigger than bedbugs and aren't exclusively nocturnal (I think), so you'd probably have noticed them if that was the issue.
posted by asnider at 10:06 AM on November 29, 2011

We had a similar, mysterious situation. We never specifically identified the bug, but it was most likely some sort of mite. The first time, doing a big, gigantic, obsessive "wash absolutely everything in hot water" -- pillows, bedding, towels, stuffed animals, etc. took care of the problem. But a few months later it happened again....and then a few months later again.

Eventually the source turned out to be a big rat problem in the crawl space under the house. We had an exterminator come, and did another obsessive washing, and that took care of it for good.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:14 AM on November 29, 2011

I had something similar last week, definitely no bedbugs, I think it might have been tiny spiders because I found one near the bed. It was really small and translucent. I killed it. No bites since so maybe there was just the one, however unlikely that might seem.
posted by mareli at 10:28 AM on November 29, 2011

It could be scabies. Bedbugs get all of the attention, but scabies are more common in bedding than you would think.
posted by cnc at 10:45 AM on November 29, 2011

Bedbug bites can take a day or so to show up, so I doubt the bites that you got at your parents' house were actually from their house. Not everyone reacts to the bites, either. Check your bedframe, cracks between the carpet and wall, and any other crevices. If I were you I would mist my bed and frame with the strongest rubbing alcohol you can find. Then get an exterminator.
posted by Logic Sheep at 11:32 AM on November 29, 2011

Sounds to me like a spider that lives on your side of the bed.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:32 PM on November 29, 2011

Response by poster: Update: Well, we still haven't seen a single bug (despite throwing off the covers in the middle of the night, and despite examining the mattress closely), but I do have a couple clusters of bites, so it's probably bed bugs. We have an exterminator coming next week, so hopefully that will give us some answers.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:49 PM on December 9, 2011

Response by poster: Update: The exterminator came, and looked all over the room and all around and under the bed. After about 10 minutes of looking, he finally found a few baby bedbugs and eggs under the frame of the bed, on my side - no full grown bedbugs though. It's a real relief to know what's going on, and we will, of course, get it treated promptly.

However, the exterminator was very surprised to see so few bugs given the number of bites I have (about 10 bites healing, 3-4 fresh bites, almost all on my arms right now) - he said that he would expect a major infestation given that many bites. So, I'm still concerned that there is another insect in addition to the bedbugs that's biting me. Hopefully the extermination will kill everything!
posted by insectosaurus at 6:36 PM on December 13, 2011

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