Those who have suffered the stress and discomfort of living in a bed bug infested home likely know from experience that bed bug bites cannot be avoided while sleeping. During the daytime hours when residents are not at home, bed bugs congregate within a variety of indoor harborages, such as between couch cushions, clothes piles, mattress seams, curtains and bedding. Bed bugs depend on their small size and their ability to hide within obscure indoor areas for their survival. After all, it’s not easy for hundreds of insects to suck blood from humans while also remaining unseen within human dwellings, but bed bugs happen to be one of the few parasitic arthropods that have adapted to pull off this very feat.
Bed bugs originally dwelled within caves where they fed on the blood of bats. Eventually, humans began living in caves, and since collecting blood from terrestrial humans is easier than collecting blood from airborne bats, bed bugs began to favor human blood. Today, the only bed bug species that can be found throughout the US, Cimex lectularius, has evolved to feed primarily on human blood, and this species is understandably difficult to detect within homes considering that bed bugs literally have millions of years of practice at staying out of human sight. Bed bugs clearly have an evolutionary advantage over their human hosts, but researchers may have found a way to exploit bed bug adaptations for human benefit.
A recent study had a large group of bed bugs choose between different colored harborages. Several experiments showed the bed bug specimens gravitating into red and black harborages, while green, white and yellow harborages were avoided. This study confirmed earlier research showing that bed bugs are attracted to red and black colors, while green, white and yellow colors are avoided like the plague. Based on this research, it seems plausible that covering a bed with white, green or yellow sheets and blankets may repel bed bug pests. However, researchers were quick to point out that bed bugs will gravitate toward green, white and yellow colors if it means gaining a blood meal, and these colors are only avoided by the insects when a reward cannot be obtained by doing otherwise.
Bed bugs likely prefer red and black because they are darker colors, and bed bugs are attracted to dark hiding places within homes. Bright colors are naturally avoided by bed bugs because the insect pests are largely nocturnal, and therefore, are repelled by bright colors. The color green may be particularly hard for bed bugs to tolerate because they are indoor insects that cannot survive within the natural environment where green vegetation is ubiquitous to terrestrial insects. That being said, one of the study’s authors mentioned that buying a green, white or yellow-colored suitcase may reduce the chances of travelers picking up bed bugs from infested hotel rooms.
Have you ever experienced a bed bug infestation? If so, do you plan on buying a light-colored bedspread?