If Your Sheets Are This Color, They Could Be Attracting Bed Bugs, Experts Say
Instead of just changing your sheets, you may want to change your bedroom's whole look.
Even if spiders, snakes, rats, or mice don't make you jump, bed bugs are the one pest even the bravest individuals hope never to tussle with. These bloodsuckers not only make themselves at home in your most sacred of spaces, they're difficult—and expensive—to get rid of. However, there may be one factor in your fight against bed bugs that you have some control over, according to research: your bedding. Read on to discover which sheet colors could be making your sleeping space a haven for bed bugs.
Red and black sheets may be more attractive to bed bugs.
If you want to make your bed less appealing to bed bugs and make them easier to spot, you might want to avoid either red or black sheets.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology found that, among a group of Harlan strain bed bugs raised at the University of Florida's Urban Entomology Laboratory, 28.5 percent preferred harborages—places to nest and lay eggs—that were black in color, while 23.4 percent preferred ones that were red in color. These preferences were even more pronounced among the male bed bugs studied. Researchers found that 37.5 percent of the male bed bugs studied preferred red harborages and 32 percent preferred black.
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Certain colors were less attractive to the bugs.
The study's researchers found that, in addition to the bed bugs showing a clear preference for harborages of a certain color, they also largely avoided other colors. Among the bugs studied, just 2.8 percent chose green harborages and 6.8 percent chose violet harborages.
This may mean the use of certain accessories could potentially dissuade bed bugs from hitching a ride."While additional research is needed, it may be reasonable to hypothesize that once fed and looking for harborage, that a bed bug would be more likely to seek harborage in a darker piece of luggage rather than a yellow or green piece of luggage, if all other conditions are equal," explains Nancy Troyano, PhD, a board-certified entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control.
There are specific signs of a bed bug infestation to look out for.
While changing the color of your sheets may make your bed seem like a less cozy place to a bed bug, keeping a close eye on signs of their presence is also key to keeping an infestation at bay.
In addition to seeing the bugs themselves, "The most common sign is bed bug droppings, which are black in color. On fabric, these droppings look like someone touched the surface with the tip of a black permanent marker," says Troyano. She also notes that cast-off skins, which are tan in color, can tip you off to a problem.
A few tricks can help keep bed bugs out of your home.
If you want to significantly reduce your risk of a bed bug infestation, there are a few ways to keep them from taking up residence in your home.
"I treat my suitcases as if they were infested and never bring them into a living space such as a bedroom. I open them up to empty them in the laundry room and store them in the basement or attic. To pack them, I put my belongings in a laundry basket and carry the basket to the suitcase," says Troyano. She notes that bed bugs can live for over nine months without feeding, so it's best to store luggage within taped garbage bag away from your living spaces until you need it again.