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Do Bed Bugs Have a Color Preference?

Posted by: Cooper Pest - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Since the resurgence of bed bugs in the late 1990s, new research is constantly being conducted to find out more about these parasites that are infesting cities across the country. A recent study performed by the researchers at University of Florida and Union College in Lincoln, Neb., wanted to explore if bed bugs had a color preference for their hiding places.

According to the study, the researchers created small tent-like harborages made from different colored card stock and placed them in Petri dishes. A bed bug was then placed within the dishes and had approximately 10 minutes to choose one of the colored harborages. Results of the study showed that bed bugs strongly preferred red or black colors versus colors like yellow or green.

Why Do Bed Bugs Prefer Certain Colors?

Cooper Pest Solutions’ staff Entomologist and bed bug expert, Dr. Richard Cooper, believes that the findings of this study may implicate that bed bugs are attracted to darker colors because of the contrast it provides against the environment.

“The color preference has to do with their orienting to vertical and darker objects,” he said. “That may be an adaptation to identify beds and upholstered furniture because these are vertical objects that stand out and have contrast against the surrounding environment. What we believe is that they are detecting contrasting objects in an environment and orienting towards them.”

Dr. Cooper went on to explain that a study conducted at Rutgers University, where he is a visiting scientist, also found the colors black and red, was significantly more attractive to bed bugs than lighter colors such as white and yellow. He explained that when bed bugs are moving throughout a dwelling, they are orienting to vertical objects that stand out against the environment, which is why the colors black and red stand out more to a bed bug than white or yellow.

“This was the first real study on orientation behavior,” Dr. Cooper said. “The findings aren’t surprising as we already know that bed bugs climb onto objects. So they’re orienting to objects that stand out in their environment and black is a more contrasting color against other backgrounds.”

Do I need Lighter Colored Luggage While Traveling?

Although Dr. Cooper doesn’t think people should go as far as using lighter colored luggage or bedding, he does think that travelers should take necessary precautionary measures when traveling.

“If you have luggage, it’s going to be a contrasting object, so it’s important where you keep your luggage in the hotel and how you deal with your personal belongings once you return home,” he said.

Ways to Reduce Your Chances at Bringing Bed Bugs Home While Traveling

  • DO NOT place luggage or clothes directly on the bed. If bed bugs are present on beds, they can easily climb and hide on luggage or clothing that is left on the bed.
  • If possible, use metal luggage racks in your room. Bed bugs cannot climb slippery surfaces like metal, so this will keep your belongings safer than if it is on the floor or elevated on a surface near a wall. Just remember to keep the rack away from the wall or furniture that bed bugs could climb on.
  • To prevent bed bugs from infesting your clothing, pack them in plastic bags that can be sealed closed.  This will help if any bed bugs get into your suitcase.
  • When checking-out, inspect your luggage for any possible signs of bed bugs to further prevent bringing them home.
  • Once you’re home, leave the luggage in the garage and immediately wash all the clothing items in hot water followed by high heat in the dryer.

Although these steps will help reduce your chances at bringing home bed bugs, it may not prevent them from hitchhiking home on your belongings.

If you suspect you have bed bugs from a recent trip, Cooper Pest Solutions can help. We will send out one of our highly skilled technicians to inspect your home for any presence of bed bugs. If they are found, we will present the treatment options available for you and your home.

For more information about our no prep bed bug service or to schedule a consultation with one of our bed bug experts, call Cooper Pest Solutions at 800-949-2667 or fill out our form HERE.

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