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Want mosquitoes to buzz off? Try wearing these colors

The ongoing research at the University of Washington is important to help control and contain these insects, whose bites can transmit deadly diseases.
Dallas West Nile
Posted at 1:08 PM, Jun 24, 2024

If it feels like mosquitoes tend to bite you more than other people around you, you may be correct.

According to researchers at the University of Washington led by biology professor Jeffrey Riffell, mosquitoes are, in fact, drawn to certain people for various reasons.

“Their eyes, their vision, their nose … everything about them is geared towards finding us and biting us,” explained Riffell, who studies mosquito sensory systems and was one of the authors of research published in Nature Communications back in 2022 that explained how the insect’s sense of smell is connected to visual cues.

It’s the female mosquitoes that are doing the biting. They need to drink blood when they are trying to produce eggs. And they may have tiny brains, but they are smarter than you think.

Hungry mosquitoes can smell the unique chemicals on our skin, in our sweat, from our breath and our carbon dioxide omission to hunt us, researchers said.

Once a mosquito detects our scent, it stimulates its eyes to scan for certain colors and patterns that they have already associated with a potential host, Riffell said in a previous interview.

The research has found mosquitoes tend to be more drawn to red, orange, black and cyan. Meanwhile, colors like green, purple, blue and white tend to be ignored by them. Therefore, wearing certain colors can help you get overlooked by them.

“They are vampires and they’re very good at what they're doing,” said Riffell.

Related: How is Los Angeles fighting off invasive mosquitoes? With more mosquitoes

The research shows mosquitoes also have the ability to learn. For example, if they bite you successfully, they know they can come back to you for more. On the flip side, they can also learn to avoid you, like if you were to swat them away.

The ongoing research at the University of Washington is important to help control and contain these insects since their bites can transmit deadly diseases and are responsible for nearly 1 million global deaths per year, Riffell said.

Climate change is also making it easier for more species of mosquitoes to move into new regions, the university said in a press release.

Cities like Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles have already noted a substantial increase in their mosquito populations this year, partly due to the arrival of new species.

Related: Las Vegas is buzzing with a record number of mosquitoes, and many are carrying viruses