Bed bugs are sneaky little pests that move fast and are experts at hitching rides in luggage, electronics and other travel items you take with you on overnight trips.
Well, that’s probably the most common way unsuspecting travelers return home with bed bugs in tow.
Bed bugs gravitate towards red and black
On April 26, CNN reported researchers at the University of Florida discovered that bed bugs, “just like flies and other insects — have favorite colors. They really like dark red and black, and they shun dazzling white and bright yellow.”
This study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology maintained that when given the choice, bed bugs gravitated towards little red and black tents set up in Petri dishes and steered clear of the white, yellow and green tents, prompting reporters to speculate about the potential of brightly colored luggage and bedding to deter bed bugs.
- Some researchers think that since bed bugs spend most of their time hiding in folds and crevices, they will naturally try to find dark spaces that provide better protection from predators than lighter spaces.
- Researchers also take into consideration the fact that bed bugs “like to stick together and might mistake the red and black colors for fellow bed bugs.”
- Roberto Pereira, an urban entomology research scientist at the University of Florida, who worked on the study thinks that because bright colors expose bed bugs to light, “the more exposed these insects are, the more they lose water, and if they lose too much, they will die or have to feed again.”
Nocturnal insects, bright colors present an alien environment to bed bugs
While bed bugs don’t carry diseases, scratching their bites can cause secondary infections. Nocturnal beings, bed bugs leave the protection of folds and crevices at night to feast on humans. Attracted by exhaled carbon dioxide and warm bodies at rest, bed bugs only come out of hiding for about 5 to 10 minutes at a time for a blood meal. So moving around in a brightly lit environment would be out of their character and the black and red colored tents were the only thing that vaguely resembled their normal habitats.
Better ways to prevent bed bugs
But before you run out and buy bright-colored luggage and bedding, Dawn Gouge, an associate professor of urban entomology at the University of Arizona thinks there are better ways to exclude bed bugs and their eggs from your home. Gouge recommends using hard-bodied suitcases and encourages travelers to unpack luggage in their garage or other suitable outdoor area, such as a patio.
Gouge says the new study sheds light on bed bug monitors and on the focus of her work: finding the best ways to monitor for bed bugs in homes and other environments.
Rethinking bed bug monitor colors
Bed bug monitors, or traps, look like bowls with steep walls placed under the legs of beds or sofas to trap bed bugs that crawl into them but does not allow them to get out. Currently, of the two most popular monitors on the market, one is white and one is black. “If we are monitoring for these bugs…I am convinced I should be using the black ones,” because the insects might avoid the lighter colors, Gouge said.
Gouge points out that, while monitors can’t terminate bed bug infestations, they are proving useful in detecting bed bug infestations. “The sooner you find them, Gouge continued, “the easier, the cheaper and faster it is to get rid of the infestation.”
Bed bugs require professional protocols to eliminate and control
Even though new studies and devices, like bed bug traps, can give homeowners further insights into bed bug infestations, homeowners should contact a professional pest control company, such as Hulett Environmental Services immediately if there is a suspected bed bug issue. Because bed bugs can go undetected until their populations have grown substantially, setting up a free inspection with one of Hulett’s entomology trained and certified technicians at the first sign of bed bugs will save you and your family the persistent, uncomfortable nightmare of a bed bug infestation.
Bed bugs can be difficult but not impossible to eliminate. Once bed bugs have been detected, your Hulett professional will guide you through the necessary preparation needed before treatment. Some of these preparations include:
- Laundering all bedding and washable items in affected areas in hot water and drying them on your dryer’s highest heat setting.
- Removing clutter from the affected area and placing non-washable items, like clock radios and decorative items in plastic bags.
- Vacuuming the affected area thoroughly, making sure to dispose of vacuum bag or the contents of your vacuum canister in a plastic bag before placing in a tightly closed bag in an outside receptacle.
Hulett’s researched, developed and tested bed bug service protocol really works. Our approach includes the latest products on the market, proven to manage bed bugs, as well as steam treatments, which kill all bed bugs in their life stages. Our bed bug program includes treating:
- Mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, nightstands and dressers
- Behind pictures or mirrors on walls
- Carpeting, baseboards, electrical outlets, and any other voids where bed bugs may hide.
Ask your certified Hulett technician about bed bug specific encasement systems for your mattresses as an affordable option to purchasing new bedroom furniture. Once bed bugs are eliminated, you should practice precautionary measures when traveling and returning from your travels.
Consult any one of a number of bed bug registries, such as www.bedbugregistry.com and registry.bedbugs.net before you book hotel accommodations. When returning from a trip, remember to launder all washables in your luggage and thoroughly vacuum everything else, including your luggage. Take back your home!