People who live in bedrooms with colour schemes favoured by seedy bachelors and angsty teens may have yet another reason to redecorate: bed bugs.
According to new research published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, the loathsome little monsters prefer to hide in shelter that’s coloured red and black. Greens, yellows and whites, on the other hand, seem to turn them off, so if you like Easter-themed and/or vomit-coloured decor, you’re probably in the clear.
To test the colour preferences, researchers created tiny, tent-like “harborages” — shelters — out of coloured paper. After placing the differently coloured tents in a single petri dish, researchers put a bed bug in the middle of the dish and gave it 10 minutes to figure out where it wanted to hide.
All told, the red harborages “were significantly preferred compared with all other coloured harborages except black,” the study found. There were some differences in colour preference when it came to variations in sex, age and hunger levels, but the overall preference for red and black stayed relatively consistent. It had previously been thought that bed bugs would go just about anywhere to hide, according to the study, but these results appear to show that that’s not necessarily the case.
“We originally thought the bed bugs might prefer red because blood is red and that’s what they feed on,” Corraine McNeill, one of the study’s authors, said in a press release. “However, after doing the study, the main reason we think they preferred red colours is because bed bug themselves appear red, so they go to these harborages because they want to be with other bed bugs.” Even bed bugs get lonely sometimes. How nice.
According to McNeill, we shouldn’t necessarily burn our red sheets just yet, because these findings may be more relevant to traps and other methods of control. “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,” she said.
But you know what? Bed bugs are the worst, and they’re getting harder to kill. I will take no chances with those blood-sucking beasts. Science may warn me against jumping to conclusions, but I can decorate my bedroom however I please, and it will contain no reds or blacks from now on. I encourage you all to do the same, so that we can avoid the terrible scourge of bugs that live in your bed and bite you while you sleep.