For many of us, bed bugs are just a cute thing to mention when wishing somebody a good night sleep. They are but creatures of fairytale, as we’ve heard of them and their exploits but we haven’t really interacted with them. But when we inevitably do have a run-in with the critters, we realize that they are no joke.
And those that ran into the blood-sucking creatures usually have some stories to tell about their encounter, as they are usually left with reminders that last for quite some time. Well, more and more of us have started being part of that category, as bed bugs have been multiplying across the US for the past year.
Understandably, the itchy reminders of any rendezvous with the insects urged science to take measures in order to curb their out-of-control numbers; so, researchers from the Union College in Lincoln, New Hampshire and the University of Florida recently discovered that bed bugs prefer certain colors to others.
But how did they manage to find that out and how is it relevant in removing the critters from our homes? Well, the team explained that in their study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. Don’t worry, though; we are here to keep you informed, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
The test performed by the team consisted of using small harborages shaped like tents, made from colored cardstock and placed in Petri dishes, to determine whether the insects have a favorite color. The researchers also took into account the bed bugs’ age, sex, level of satiety and even whether they were in groups or alone.
It turns out that unlike most insects, bed bugs prefer darker colors, going for red and black more often than for green and yellow. But the bed bugs had different preferences depending on pretty much every single one of the factors checked by the team. And there’s a very good explanation as to why they preferred and black.
The best explanation is that they are colors similar to the natural colorings of the insects, so they’d be able to hide better. But personal and group preferences also highly affected the harborage for which the bed bugs would go. Next, of course, is the step during which the discovered knowledge has to be applied.
As soon as the team figures out how and why the bed bugs prefer different colors depending on their sex, hunger level, age, and group pressure, they are going to start working on a way to implement it into traps or poisons, hopefully combined with pheromones and other things meant to draw the critters inside.
According to Dr. Corraine McNeill, co-author of the study,
We are thinking about how you can enhance bed bug traps by using monitoring tools that act as a harborage and are a specific color that is attractive to the bug. However, the point isn’t to use the color traps in isolation, but to use color preference as something in your toolkit to be paired with other things such as pheromones or carbon dioxide to potentially increase the number of bed bugs in a trap.
Image source: Wikimedia