Bedbugs generally prefer hiding spots that are red or black, according to researchers from the University of Florida and Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. On the other hand, these bloodsucking insects strongly avoid the colours yellow and green.

“We originally thought the bed bugs might prefer red because blood is red and that’s what they feed on,” adds study co-author Corraine McNeill. “However, after doing the study, the main reason we think they preferred red colours is because bed bugs themselves appear red, so they go to these harbourages because they want to be with other bed bugs, as they are known to exist in aggregations.”

This suggests that bedbugs choose a hiding spot based on its color when moving in the light. The researchers also believe that these bugs avoid yellow and green colours because these colours seem like brightly-lit areas.


A bed bug nymph feeding on a host. Credit: Piotr Naskrecki/Wikimedia

The study published on April 25 in the Journal of Medical Entomology involved testing bedbugs in coloured tent-like cardstock in Petri dishes. The findings could have implications for controlling these insects.

The researchers point out that many factors can dictate which color bedbugs choose. Age, hunger, gender, and being alone may change their preferences.

However, using colours to trap bedbugs may not be enough and people may attempt to throw out their red and black sheets in favour of green and yellow ones to eliminate these insects. The researchers suggest combining colours with other bedbug-attracting strategies such as increasing carbon dioxide in a trap.

“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,” adds McNeill. “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.”