Avoid Wearing These Colors to Stave Off Mosquitoes, Study Suggests

Zoomed in mosquito on skinZoomed in mosquito on skin
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A recently-released study showed that mosquitoes have no preference for skin tone, but are drawn to the colors red and orange, which show up in everyone's pigmentation.

A team of researchers who studied the behavior of 50 mosquitoes have determined that mosquitoes are especially attracted to the colors red and orange.

According to a study published in "Nature,"  the scientists studied mosquitoes from the species Aedes aegypti, observing the reactions of the mosquitoes to various sights and smells after releasing them in a controlled environment.

“We use a real-time 3D tracking system and wind tunnel that allows careful control of the olfactory and visual environment to quantify the behavior of more than 1.3 million mosquito trajectories,” the researchers wrote.

“The results from the study show that colors like black and red are very attractive, and if you were to wear those colors in your clothes, you would increase your attraction to the mosquito. However, if you were to wear white, or blue and green, you would be much less visually attractive to the mosquito,” Jeff Riffell, a study co-author and University of Washington biology professor, told McClatchy News in a Feb. 7 email. 

Scientists tested to see if the insects had any preference for skin tone, and showed the mosquitoes both human volunteers and cards with various skin tones options, finding that the insects were attracted to all skin.

“Sensitivity to orange and red correlates with mosquitoes’ strong attraction to the color spectrum of human skin, which is dominated by these wavelengths,” the researchers wrote.

“In this study, we found a fourth cue: the color red, which can not only be found on your clothes, but is also found in everyone’s skin,” said Riffell in a press release from the University of Washington.

As a suggestion to avoid being bit by the mosquitoes, Riffell said, “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.”

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