Study: Are bed bugs attracted to dirty laundry?

By |  October 10, 2017

According to a British study published in late September in Scientific Reports, bed bugs are attracted to dirty laundry. The study, led by Dr. William Hentley from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, suggests that leaving worn clothes exposed in sleeping areas when traveling may facilitate the dispersal of the bugs.

When your mother told you to pick up your dirty socks off the floor and into the hamper, she was practicing bed bug prevention. Who knew?
Photo: University of Sheffield

The researchers conducted experiments in two identical, temperature-controlled rooms in which four tote bags of clothes were placed — two containing soiled clothes, two with clean clothes — in the presence of bed bugs.

In each run of the experiment, one room received an increase in concentration of carbon dioxide (CO²) to simulate human breathing. The Sheffield scientists found that in the absence of a human host, bed bugs were twice as likely to aggregate on bags containing soiled clothes compared to bags containing clean clothes. They also found that in the room with increased concentrations of C0², bed bugs were more likely to leave their refuge and initiate host-seeking behavior.

“Our study suggests that keeping dirty laundry in a sealed bag, particularly when staying in a hotel, could reduce the chances of people taking bed bugs home with them, which may reduce the spread of infestations,” Dr. Hentley said in a press release.

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