WASHINGTON, USA — We've all been there while exploring the great outdoors. Whether you're camping, taking a stroll, or enjoying a hamburger at a summer cookout — mosquito bites are a given.
But do they have to be? It turns out you can fend off the nuisance bloodsuckers with the color clothing you wear.
A study published in the journal Nature Communications on Feb. 4, 2022, found that mosquitoes are more attracted to certain colors than others.
So, if you're looking to avoid the itchy bites, researchers at the University of Washington say to avoid colors like cyan, orange, red and black. Instead, you should focus on wearing colors mosquitoes ignore like white, blue, green and purple.
Here's how it works. Researchers say mosquitoes track odors, locate hosts and find mates visually, all while being attracted to the smell of CO2 — aka the gas humans exhale with each breath they take.
Pair that with the red-orange "signal" our skin emits to a mosquito's eyes and that makes us perfect targets of the insect's bite.
“Mosquitoes appear to use odors to help them distinguish what is nearby, like a host to bite,” senior author Jeffery Riffel said. “When they smell specific compounds, like CO2 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.”
The hope is that knowing which colors attract "hungry mosquitoes," and which don't, will help scientists better design things like repellants and traps to keep the insects at bay.
"The shade of your skin doesn’t matter, we are all giving off a strong red signature. Filtering out those attractive colors in our skin, or wearing clothes that avoid those colors, could be another way to prevent a mosquito biting," Riffell said.
To get their results, researchers say they studied the trajectory of more than 1.3 million mosquitoes using a "real-time" 3D tracking system and wind tunnel.
According to the study, more research still needs to be done to determine how other visual and odor cues factor into how mosquitoes target potential hosts.