Barring any scientists waving their middle finger at God and messing with genetics, we will never be able to wipe bedbugs off the face of the earth. But we can at least arm ourselves with our most powerful weapon—information—to try to ward off our blood-sucking, mattress-ruining parasitic overlords. And a new study has given us some really colorful ammunition for the war.
According to a new study outlined in the Journal of Medical Entomology, it turns out that bedbugs have certain colors that they're attracted to—and certain colors that they shy away from. Here's the most important thing: bedbugs love dark red and black, and they tend to stay away from "dazzling white and bright yellow."
The experiment started as researchers wondered whether they could enhance bedbug traps using certain colors. "It was speculated that a bed bug would go to any harborage in an attempt to hide," the authors wrote. "However, these color experiments show that bed bugs...will select a harborage based on its color when moving in the light."
They put bedbugs into Petri dishes that contained little tents made of different colored paper, then watched as they gravitated toward the darker colors (black and red). It didn't matter if they were male or female, bloated with blood or hungry. "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," Roberto Pereira, one of the members of the team, told CNN.
Co-author Corraine McNeill of Union College said in a release: “We originally thought the bed bugs might prefer red because blood is red and that’s what they feed on. However, after doing the study, the main reason we think they preferred red colors is because bed bugs themselves appear red, so they go to these harborages because they want to be with other bed bugs.” They also posit that it could be because they offer better protection from predators such as ants and spiders.
Of course, just because they're more attracted to dark colors won't stop them from creeping into your fresh white mattress if they get inside your apartment. But it does mean that if you really want to trap them, use dark caramel burned crème brûlée-colored traps—and if you really want to try to keep them away from you, you can always make like a bad American and wear white all year round.