Bed Bugs Northwest

Resarchers Find Bed Bugs Attracted to Some Colors




Bed bugs are attracted to different colors at different stages, researchers determine.

So many articles this week about researchers determining that bed bugs are attracted to some colors more than others. No surprise there for me at least. It makes sense, having lived with bed bugs (5 years ago for 8 months) that they would instinctively be attracted to nesting or retreating to areas, spaces, etc., that help them blend in. After all, a newly fed bed bug is going to be red and an unfed bed bug or nymph is going to be yellow-clearish. It’s a pure survival trait.

A recent article from the Oxford University Press, Journal of Medical Entomology, researchers determined:

Two-choice and seven-choice behavioral color assays indicate that red (28.5%) and black (23.4%) harborages are optimal harborage choices for bed bugs. Yellow and green harborages appear to repel bed bugs. Harborage color preferences change according to gender, nutritional status, aggregation, and life stage. Female bed bugs prefer harborages with shorter wavelengths (lilac—14.5% and violet—11.5%) compared to males, whereas males prefer harborages with longer wavelengths (red—37.5% and black—32%) compared with females. The preference for orange and violet harborages is stronger when bed bugs are fed as opposed to when they are starved. Lone bed bugs (30%) prefer to be in black harborages while red harborages appear to be the optimum harborage color for bed bugs in more natural mixed aggregations (35.5%). Bed bug nymphs preferred different colored harborages at each stage of development, which is indicative of their developing eye structures and pigments. First instars showed no significant preference for any colored harborage soon after hatching. However, by the fifth instar, 27.5% of nymphs significantly preferred red and black harborages (which was a similar preference to adult bed bugs). The proportion of oviposited eggs was significantly greater under blue, red, and black harborages compared to other colored harborages tested. The use of visual cues such as specific colors offers great potential for improving bed bug monitoring tools by increasing trap captures.


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Researches will use the information gathered in the study to develop more effective and less expensive consumer bed bug traps and monitoring devices.

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