According to a study in the Journal of Medical Entomology, bed bugs do have a preference for certain colors over others. As these pests continue to infest large numbers of homes and are becoming harder to kill by traditional methods, you may now be wondering if it is time to buy some new sheets in non-bed bug approved colors.
Researchers at the University of Florida provided bed bugs with several paper tents made of varying colors in order to observe where they would choose to find shelter. After waiting ten minutes to allow their subjects to hide under the tent of their preference, the researchers noted the colors of the tents which attracted the greatest number of bugs.
Their findings? Bed bugs prefer red and black over yellow and green.
The researchers hypothesize that the bugs prefer these particular hues as they are the colors of well-fed bed bugs; however, there may be other mechanisms at work as well.
While this is a plausible explanation, many factors influenced which color the bed bugs chose. For example, the bugs’ color preferences changed as they grew older, and they chose different colors when they were in groups than when they were alone. They also chose different colors depending on whether they were hungry or fed. Furthermore, males and females seemed to prefer different colors.
The authors suggest that a possible explanation for why bed bugs avoided yellow and green colors is because those colors resemble brightly-lit areas. These findings are important because they may have implications for controlling the pests.
While this might be sufficient motivation for you to redecorate your bedroom, the researchers believe that the study’s findings have a much more promising application for the construction of traps rather than providing any real immunity on their own.
“I think using colors to monitor and prevent bed bugs would have to be specifically applied to some sort of trap, and it would have to be used along with another strategy for control,” the study’s coauthor Corraine McNeill said. “I don’t know how far I would go to say don’t get a red suitcase or red sheets, but the research hasn’t been done yet, so we can’t really rule that out completely.”