Choose your decor wisely: apparently bed bugs are attracted to certain colors

By Virginia K. Smith  | April 27, 2016 - 1:30PM

Who knew the city's most feared insects were also teeny, tiny aesthetes? According to new research published in the Journal of Medical Entymology, bed bugs have a tendency to shy away from—and gravitate toward—certain color palettes. Unsurprisingly, given their tendency to hole up in dark, unseen corners and crevices, their preferred colors are black and red, while they're not too fond of "dazzling white and bright yellow," as CNN reports.

In the study, researchers placed tiny tents made of different colored paper into petri dishes, and tracked which ones the bugs crawled towards—overwhelmingly, they chose black and red options instead of yellow, white, or green. While it's unclear exactly what the bed bugs are thinking here, the working theory is that darker colors mimic the colors of their fellow bed bugs, and allow them to better hide from potential predators.

So, does this mean we should all embrace the ongoing—and difficult to clean—all-white-everything decor trend? "We joked that we are all going to buy bright yellow luggage bags because the bedbugs seem not to prefer them, or not to prefer laying eggs on them," one researcher told CNN.

But, as Gothamist points out, color preferences never seem to stop the critters from shacking up, in, say, your eggshell-white mattress, and in fact, researchers say the real lesson here should be in how we approach trapping and detecting the pests.

"The most valuable thing from this study is to say definitively, if we are monitoring for these bugs, we tend to rely on black or white traps. [...] I am convinced I should be using the black ones," an entymology expert (not involved with the specific study) told CNN. For instance, a dark monitor like BlackOut might be particularly effective.

Combined with the usual methods we use to keep bed bugs at bay—avoiding cloth street furniture, using hard-shelled luggage, etc.— consider this information just an extra weapon in our ever-growing arms race against the city's most notorious blood-sucking residents.


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