How do you get rid of bed bugs? It appears that carefully choosing the colors of the bed sheets you use may help you avoid these blood-sucking insects.

In a new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology on April 25, researchers have found that bed bugs have favorite colors. The insects appear to prefer taking shelter in black and red materials, and they appear to be repulsed by the colors green, yellow and white.

Study researcher Corraine McNeill, from the Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, said that the color preferences of bed bugs develop as they age.

Young bed bugs do not have very developed eyes ,which explains why they do not seem to have distinct color preferences. The closer these insects get to adulthood, however, the more they seem to get increasingly drawn to red and black.

For the study, McNeill and colleagues placed tiny tent-like harborages, or shelters, with different colors in a petri dish and observed that the bed bug in the dish preferred to hide in the red and black harborages, suggesting that bed bugs do not just go anywhere to hide as previously believed.

"Red and black harborages (no statistically significant difference was observed between these colors) appear to be the most attractive harborages for a wide range of bed bug life stages, whereas yellow and green harborages appear to be the least attractive for most bed bug life stages," the researchers wrote in their study.

The researchers speculate that the blood-sucking insects are drawn to black because it is a representative of darkness, which these nocturnal creatures naturally seek.

As for red, the researchers said it isn't likely because it has the same color as blood but because it suggests the presence of other bed bugs. The insects are known to gather in groups.

"We originally thought the bed bugs might prefer red because blood is red and that's what they feed on," McNeill said.

"After doing the study, the main reason we think they preferred red colors is because bed bugs themselves appear red, so they go to these harborages because they want to be with other bed bugs, as they are known to exist in aggregations."

The insects do not like green, yellow and white likely because these colors are often found in well-lit and exposed areas.

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