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Bed Bugs Attracted To Dirty Laundry, Study Finds

29 September 2017, 6:20 am EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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Researchers have found that bed bugs are more attracted to exposed used clothing compared to clean clothing. The results show a possible explanation for the bed bugs' global expansion.  ( Gerhard Gellinger | Pixabay )

A new research reveals bed bugs's preference for dirty laundry. The results also reveal a possible explanation for how bed bugs spread around the world.

Bed Bug Attraction

Not in the mood to do your laundry? This new research might just have you heading for the laundry room even during a vacation because as it turns out, bed bugs are attracted to dirty laundry, and there is a chance that your clothes took them home from vacations, too.

The long-held belief for how bed bugs end up lugging home along with humans after a trip is that perhaps they fell on clothes or on the luggage after they're done feeding. However, the results of the study show that these accidental stowaways actually seek out for used clothing, and not just fall on them after a bloody feast.

Unusual Experiment

To gather their results, researchers conducted a rather unusual experiment that entailed having human volunteers wash themselves with unscented soap, wear T-shirt and socks for six hours straight, and then have these used clothes packed in two cotton tote bags.

The two bags of used clothing were placed in a room along with two other bags of clean clothes, all four were of equal distance to the center of the room. At that, the researchers released bed bugs and observed their behavior.

After four days, researchers observed that the bed bugs were mostly in the bags with used clothes. In fact, in the absence of a human host, bed bugs were twice as likely to go to the bags with used clothing rather than the bags with clean clothes.

Why Is This Important?

For one thing, the results show how the presence of humans evidently isn't necessary for bed bugs to stowaway in our luggage and clothes. The results also suggest that even the simple act of leaving exposed, dirty laundry in the sleeping area may lead to bed bug stowaways.

This does not just lead to transferring the bed bugs into your own home when you get home, but it also suggests the process of how bed bugs are able to expand their territories. In fact, according to researchers, the bed bugs's global expansion has possibly been advanced by cheap air travel which allows more people to easily move from one point to another, something bed bugs have clearly taken advantage of.

The results are neither unusual nor are they unexpected as bed bugs are known to be attracted to the scent of sleeping humans. With the results of the study, perhaps it wouldn't be so bad to spend a little more time taking care of laundry even when you're away from home.

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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