4 Colors That Attract Mosquitoes, Pest Experts and Data Say
Avoid wearing these hues outside if you're worried about mosquito bites.
Whether you're entertaining guests, simply soaking up the sun in your backyard, or planting some new flowers, you'll want to do your best to shield yourself from pests this summer. Mosquitoes are especially troublesome this time of year, thanks to all the rain and extra humidity. In addition to avoiding certain scents and adding mosquito repellents, you might be able to steer clear of these pesky insects if you don't wear certain colors, according to a scientific study and pest experts. Keep reading to learn which colors attract mosquitoes.
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4 Colors That Attract Mosquitoes
In a recent study conducted by the University of Washington, biology professor and lead author Jeffrey Riffell explains that mosquitoes' ability to smell carbon dioxide (which humans can't do) activates their visual sense.
"When they smell specific compounds, like carbon dioxide from our breath, that scent stimulates the eyes to scan for specific colors and other visual patterns, which are associated with a potential host, and head to them," Riffell said via Sci News.
Sweat and skin temperature can also attract them, and since CO2 travels far, mosquitoes can sense a host from up to 20 feet away.
Red is especially bright and noticeable to mosquitoes when combined with body odor like sweat or certain perfumes.
You probably know that wearing black in the summertime makes you hotter. What you may not know, however, is that it's also a big attractor of mosquitoes.
"Mosquitoes do use their eyes to locate their hosts, and darker colors stand out against the horizon during dusk and dawn, which are the peak times mosquitoes are out searching for blood meals," explains Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal.
David Price, ACE, director of technical services and associate certified entomologist at Mosquito Joe, adds that while mosquitoes don't actually see colors, "they see contrasts in the light spectrum, and black creates more contrast and absorbs more heat."
And like red, the color black has a longer wavelength, so after smelling carbon dioxide, mosquitoes will gravitate towards these hues more, according to the study.
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The study also found that aegypti mosquitoes—those that are more likely to carry viruses like Zika, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—were attracted to cyan because of the color's dominant wavelength.
Mosquitoes are always looking for nutrients and food sources, and they use all of their senses to do that. "Certain odors and bodily cues like heat and water vapor can trigger mosquitoes' response to color," explains Jason McCausland, national technical coordinator for Weed Man.
Cyan creates a silhouette that helps the mosquito to identify a potential meal even when the host is in motion, Roger May, PhD, director of technical operations at TruGreen, tells Best Life.
In an interview with Newsweek, Riffell explained that human skin, regardless of pigmentation, also gives off a long-wavelength signal in the red-orange range—which may be why the mosquitoes are buzzing about.
As for what colors you should wear, the study found that green, purple, blue, and white did not attract mosquitoes. Price also suggests wearing pastels, as these light hues blend into the background of many outdoor settings, ultimately making them less attractive.
"If you are standing right next to a person who is wearing red or orange, they might bite them instead," says McCausland.