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Do dark sheets make your bed more appealing to bed bugs?

It’s almost that time of the year where holiday lovers switch out their usual bed comforter for the colors of the season. But before you switch out your bedding, did you know that bed bugs might be drawn to certain colors? Could you actually be attracting bed bugs to you?!

Bed bugs are one major pest. These tiny, blood-sucking critters bite you while you sleep leaving itchy red bumps on your skin. They could be living in your home without you even realizing it and, on top of that, they can survive over nine months without having a meal. Nine months?! We know we would do just about anything to repel these pests away from us, and if that means switching out the colors of our bedsheets, then we’re all for it. 

So let’s get some answers. We spoke with Ehrlich entomologist Dr. Nancy Troyano to find out the truth about the influence color has on bed bugs.

Christmas decorations

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Are bed bugs attracted to certain colors?

Short Answer: Kind of! The real answer is twofold. It turns out that bed bugs do have different color preferences for hiding and placing their eggs, but for feeding on you, well that’s a different story. 

According to a study from Oxford Academic, when given different color options for hiding, bed bugs choose red and black harborages over any other color. In general, bed bugs like to hide in places that are darker, as opposed to bright and light, to keep themselves safe from predators. Dr. Troyano noted that color attraction for a bed bug can depend on a bed bug’s biological factors, like gender, age, and nutritional status. 

With that being said, a hungry bed bug is an eager bed bug (ever been hangry before?). No matter if you’re sleeping on white or black sheets, you’re a gourmet meal to a bed bug. Having red or darker colored sheets may attract bed bugs, but lighter color sheets won’t repel them when they’re hungry. 

Moral of the story: if bed bugs are hungry, color doesn’t matter to them. However, there are some things you can do to help avoid attracting these pests.

How to avoid picking up bed bugs when traveling

You can do all you can to repel bed bugs from coming to your home, but how can you make sure you don’t pick them up while on vacation?

1. Travel with a bright-colored suitcase!

Use this as your excuse to go suitcase shopping and purchase one that’s bright – think yellow or light green. Though there is a possibility that bed bugs may still try to hide in the dark corners and crevices of your suitcase, there’s a better chance they will be less attracted to harbor in it if it’s a lighter color. (Plus, your bag will stand out more at baggage claim making it easier for you to find it after a long day of travel!)

2. Choose the bed with the lighter colored sheets. 

Knowing that bed bugs like to hide (for up to nine months!) in darker places, if there are multiple beds to choose from during your stay, choose the bed with the brighter colored sheets. You’ll have less of a risk of snuggling with bed bugs at night.

3. Clean your suitcase upon arriving home!

You’ve probably heard this multiple times, but we cannot stress the importance of this one! Inspect your luggage for any blood stains or the bed bugs themselves in the crevices. Dr. Troyano recommends treating your suitcases as if they are infested with bed bugs. Unpack your suitcases in the laundry room, store them in your basement or attic in a sealed plastic bag, and never bring them into a living room or bedroom.

“While additional research is needed, it may be reasonable to hypothesize that once fed and looking for harborage, a bed bug would be more likely to seek it in a darker piece of luggage rather than a yellow or green piece of luggage.”

-Dr. Nancy Troyano

Bedbugs and luggages

Signs of bed bugs 

When you travel anywhere, you should always check for the following signs of bed bugs. Depending on the size of the infestation, if there is one, there usually are visual signs that bed bugs are present.

  1. Droppings are the most common sign. They are black in color and, when found on fabric, they look like someone touched the surface with a black permanent marker.

  2. Cast skins are another tell-tale sign of bed bugs. These are tan-colored shed skins from the bed bug when it molts.

  3. Finally, you may find live bed bugs themselves. Though tiny, they are visible to the naked eye even though adults are only about the size of an apple seed.

You can also refer to our 5 step guide for more ways to check for signs of bed bugs in your hotel. If you notice any of these signs while on vacation, contact the property manager immediately.

Bedbugs and skins

Let Ehrlich solve your bed bug problems!

Though you can do your best to repel bed bugs, sometimes they might just find their way back home with you. If you think you have bed bugs, don’t waste another minute. Contact us today for a free bed bug inspection to start controlling bed bugs! We’re here to help.

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