Want to discourage bed bugs from setting up camp in your room or following you home? It might be time to rethink the color of your sheets and suitcases. New research shows that the critters are attracted to certain colors and repulsed by others.
In a new study published in the Journal of Entomology, a research team from the University of Florida and Union College found that bed bugs love the colors black and red but hate yellow and green.
Previous studies have shown that the blood suckers aren't very good at distinguishing colors in the dark. So the research team decided to test their color recognition skills when a light is shone on them — as this would be a time when the bugs would scatter in search of a new place to hide. Entomologists always assumed that bed bugs would hide anywhere, but the research team wanted to test the theory.
For the study, researchers placed the bugs in petri dishes filled with small tents of different colors. After the bugs skittered around for 10 minutes, researchers recorded the color of the tent in which they chose to hide. The researchers randomly moved the tents around in the dish between tests to make sure that the bugs weren't choosing simply based on location. They tested bed bugs of various ages and genders and even did a separate test for brooding females to see if they had a color preference when laying their eggs.
Across the board, bed bugs showed a preference for the colors red and black, while steering clear of yellow and green.
"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," one of the researchers, Roberto Pereira of the University of Florida, told CNN.
One way people get infestations at home, said Pereira, is the bugs or a few eggs hitch a ride from a hotel to your house in your suitcase. A brightly colored bag may be able to prevent that, although they can still hide in the dark folds inside the luggage.
The researchers admit that the color of your sheets probably wouldn't affect your likelihood for a bed bug infestation. But this new information about color preference could help entomologists design better traps that when combined with pheromones or other gases attract more bugs and make it easier to get them out of your home.