Researchers have discovered that bedbugs are attracted to or repelled by certain colours, paving the way for future studies to establish if certain shades of sheets could do so as well. 

The study from universities in Nebraska and Florida, published on April 25, suggests the blood-sucking critters are most attracted to red and black and repelled by yellow and green — depending on their life stage, gender, and how hungry they are. 

"Right now even though I would really love to say avoid red sheets or buy green sheets, it's probably stretching things a little bit," said Corraine McNeill with Union College in Nebraska.

"It's not to say that wouldn't be something we couldn't potentially say that in the future, but right now we don't have the research to back that up."

McNeill said other factors to consider include body heat, pheromones and CO2 levels. 

bedbug petri dish

Researcher Corraine McNeil shows the set up used to determine which colours bedbugs are attracted to. (CBC)

"It's a bigger deal than we actually thought," said McNeill. "But I wouldn't probably use colour just as a standalone."

It's still unclear why the bedbugs were more attracted to certain colours than others, but McNeill thinks they may be more attracted to red because the critters are the same colour. 

The bedbugs were set up in a petri dish, alone or with a group, with an assortment of coloured "harbourages" — small, tent-like structures to replicate the kinds of small spaces they like to hide in — to see which ones they went to or avoided. 

McNeill said the next stage of research could also involve using actual bed sheets.