Saturday 21 April 2018

Bedbugs are drawn to certain colours, study finds (avoid them if you want to sleep tight)

Bed bug. Photo: Rentokill Ireland
Bed bug. Photo: Rentokill Ireland

Sasha Brady

A new study has found that bedbugs may be drawn to certain colours.

You may want to think about redecorating if you sleep in red or black sheets.

Researches at the University of Florida conducted a series of different lab tests to see if bedbugs would prefer different colour harborages, or places where pests seek shelter. The scientists found that bedbugs strongly favour red and black colours and avoid green and yellow.

The tests consisted of coloured paper used to make small harborages in Petri dishes. Placed in the middle of the dish, the bedbugs got 10 minutes to choose one of the harborages.

Bed bug and bites. Photo: Rentokill Ireland
Bed bug and bites. Photo: Rentokill Ireland

The bedbugs chose to spend the most amount of time in the red and black spaces.

Avoidance of green and yellow colors could be due to these shades resembling brightly lit areas, the scientists said.

I always joke with people, "Make sure you get yellow sheets!'," said study co-author Corraine McNeill.

"But to be very honest, I think that would be stretching the results a little too much.

"I think using colours 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 insects are thought to prefer red because it is the same colour as they are and may represent a group of bedbugs and therefore safety, and black because it is dark and the creatures tend to live in crevices.

"We originally thought the bedbugs might prefer red because blood is red and that's what they feed on," McNeill said.

"However, after doing the study, the main reason we think they preferred red colours is because bedbugs themselves appear red, so they go to these harborages because they want to be with other bedbugs, as they are known to exist in aggregations."

Pheromones and carbon dioxide could be used in conjunction with particular colours, according to the study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

Bedbugs are visible to the naked eye at 5mm long and are attracted to the heat of the human body.

They feed on human blood and leave painful bites. People often take them home from holidays as unwitting souvenirs in their luggage.

This means they can occur in even the cleanest households, but the only way to get rid of them is to disassemble the bedding and hoover every centimetre of it, steam clean the soft furnishings and then, after all that, clean the vacuum cleaner itself.

Freezing also kills them. But you may need to get rid of your mattress.

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