Bed Bugs Have Favorite Colors, So Avoid Buying Types Of Sheets

Few things can cause more sheer panic and paranoia than an outbreak of bed bugs, but luckily we may have a new weapon in the fight against these bloodsuckers. Scientists have discovered that bed bugs have favorite colors when it comes to choosing their hiding places — and it may be something to consider next time you’re picking out a new set of sheets.

The study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, and conducted by scientists at the University of Florida, found that bed bugs preferred black and red shelters, while yellow and green seemed to turn them away. Bed bugs, like other insects including honey bees and flies, can see in color thanks to their compound eyes. They use the color spectrum as a visual cue to determine a multitude of different things including where to hide, where to lay eggs, which mate to choose, and where to feed (the horror!). This nest parasite spends a majority of its time hiding in little cracks and crevices, and is mainly active at night — which makes it so hard to kill. Essentially, when they are not nibbling on you, they are looking for a place to hide, and remain out of sight 90 percent of the time.

For the experiment, researchers set up a row of small paper tents of different colors in a petri dish. They placed a bed bug in the middle of the dish, giving it ten minutes to hide under its preferential harborage. Bed bugs of different ages, genders, and state of feeding were used in the experiment. They could choose from eight different colored tents including lilac, violet, blue, orange, green, yellow, red, black, in addition to white.

Red and black came out as the favorite across the board. Female bed bugs preferred purple and violet, while male bed bugs still stuck with the red and black. When the bed bugs had been fed before testing, they were more likely to prefer orange and violet, as opposed to their brethren whom had been starved for a week. Also, blue, black and red were the preferential colors for laying eggs — so you might want to think about exchanging that navy couch.

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Researchers hope to use the information to improve traps and bedbug monitoring devices by increasing their appeal. Dawn Gouge, an associate professor of urban entomology at the University of Arizona, told CNN, "The most valuable thing from this study is to say definitively, if we are monitoring for these bugs, we tend to rely on black or white traps... I am convinced I should be using the black ones."

Picking up bed bugs while traveling is still a major concern, but it seems this study may help with that as well. "We joked that we are all going to buy bright yellow luggage bags because the bedbugs seem not to prefer them, or not to prefer laying eggs on them," said Roberto Pereira, co-author of the study. If yellow and green aren't your favorite color yet, you may want to reconsider. Gosh, I’m feeling itchy already.

Images: Pexels , HalBrown/Wikicommons, giphy