What Colors Are Bed Bugs Attracted To?

A recent study on bed bugs provided evidence that bed bugs are attracted to certain colors when they seek harborage sites or when foraging for a blood meal.

In general, beg bugs preferred red and black, rather than yellow, orange, green, lilac and violet.

Red & Black: Bed bugs prefer black and red shelters more than white and yellow because darker colors offer better protection from predators.

Yellow & Green: Yellow and green harborages seemed to repel bed bugs. The authors suggested that bed bugs avoided yellow and green colors since those colors resemble areas of intense lighting, rather than darker reds and blacks.

Harborage color preferences change according to the bed bug’s gender, nutritional status, aggregation, and life stage.

Preferences According to Gender:

  • Female bed bugs prefer harborages with shorter wavelengths such as lilac and violet.
  • The proportion of eggs laid by females was significantly greater under blue, red, and black harborages compared to other colored harborages tested.
  • Males prefer harborages with longer wavelengths such as red and black.

Preferences According to Nutritional Status:

  • The preference for orange and violet harborages is stronger when bed bugs are fed as opposed to when they are starved.

Preferences According to Aggregation:

  • Bed bugs might mistake red and black colored harborages for their other bed bug buddies since bed bugs prefer to harbor in clusters, rather than individually.
  • Lone bed bugs prefer to be in black harborages while red harborages appear to be the optimum harborage color for bed bugs in more natural mixed aggregations.

Preferences According to Life Stage:

  • Bed bug nymphs preferred different colored harborages at each stage of development, which is indicative of their developing eye structures and pigments.
  • First instar nymphs showed no significant preference for any colored harborage soon after hatching; however, by the fifth instar, nymphs significantly preferred red and black harborage, similar to the preferences of adult bed bugs.

So, why is color preference important? This research establishes the potential relationships between color and bed bug behavior, plus gives bed bug pest management professionals the opportunity to greatly improve monitoring and trapping tools.