They may not be picky about thread counts, but it turns out bed bugs have pretty specific tastes when it comes to the color of your sheets.
In a new study published online in the Journal of Medical Entomology, researchers examined which colors common bed bugs prefer by placing tiny pieces of cardstock in eight different colours inside Petri dishes. A bed bug, dropped in the middle, had 10 minutes to decide which one to hide under. The top two color choices: red and black.
Red, which bed bugs chose about 29 percent of the time, may signal the presence of other bed bugs.
"We originally thought the bed bugs might prefer red because blood is red and that's what they feed on," said study co-author Corraine McNeill, assistant professor of biology at Union College in Nebraska, in a statement. "However, after doing the study, the main reason we think they preferred red is because bed bugs themselves appear red, so they go to these harborage because they want to be with other bed bugs." Apparently, bed bugs like to cuddle (in your red sheets).
Black came in close second, with bugs choosing the hue 23 percent of the time. Scientists hypothesize this is because the bugs naturally seek darkness: Bed bugs are mostly nocturnal and hide out in the corners of mattresses and other nooks and crannies before coming out to snack on blood, reports Newsweek.
"Insects use visual cues for a wide variety of behaviors including, but not limited to, recognizing hosts, finding mates, ovipositing [laying eggs], and seeking shelter," researchers write in the study. "The visual cues are often based on the perception of color."
If you have yellow or green sheets, you're in luck. The bed bugs seemed to dislike these colors, possibly because they resemble the brightly-lit areas the insects tend to avoid, according to a press release from the Entomological Society of America.
Ready to burn your red and black sheets? Put down the matches. Scientists suggest holding off on destroying linens based on their color — for now.