Mosquitoes are a nuisance for many people, especially in the warmer summer months. Their bites can leave itchy welts on the skin and some mosquitoes can transmit dangerous diseases like malaria, yellow fever, dengue, Zika, and West Nile virus. Finding ways to avoid mosquito bites is an important health consideration for many. One strategy is using colors that deter mosquitoes. Certain colors seem to repel mosquitoes more than others. In this article, we will explore what mosquitoes are attracted to, which colors they dislike, and how color can be used to help repel mosquitoes.
What Attracts Mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are drawn to hosts by different cues. Primary attractants include:
– Carbon dioxide from breath – Mosquitoes can sense CO2 from up to 150 feet away. They are attracted to the CO2 people and animals exhale.
– Body heat – Mosquitoes use infrared sensors to locate warm-blooded hosts. Higher body temperatures relative to ambient temperatures attract them.
– Sweat – Lactic acid and other chemicals in sweat attract mosquitoes. People who sweat more can be more inviting.
– Scent – Substances produced by skin bacteria also seem to attract mosquitoes to certain individuals more than others.
– Movement – Mosquitoes are drawn to movement and are likely to bite moving targets.
– Visual cues – Mosquitoes use vision to locate hosts. Dark clothing seems to attract mosquitoes more than light or bright colors.
Which Colors Deter Mosquitoes?
While mosquitoes aren’t thought to see color the same way as humans, some research suggests they have preferences for certain colors and are deterred by others:
– Dark colors – Darker shades of black, brown, red, and navy blue seem to attract mosquitoes. A study found people wearing these colors were bitten more frequently.
– Light and vibrant colors – Lighter shades of green, purple, yellow, orange, and pink were less attractive to mosquitoes. Mosquitoes were less drawn to these brighter hues.
|Mosquito Attraction Level
– White and khaki – Light shades like white, beige, and khaki were also less attractive to mosquitoes in studies. These may blend in with skin tones.
– Metallic – In a study, silver and gold deterred mosquitoes more than dark colors. The reflectiveness may confuse their vision.
Why Are Mosquitoes Repelled by Certain Colors?
Researchers theorize mosquitoes may be deterred by lighter colors for several reasons:
– Vision – Mosquitoes likely see dark colors better. Lighter shades may not stand out or be as visible to them.
– Heat – Darker colors may absorb more heat from sunlight. Mosquitoes detect heat, so warmer dark clothing may be more noticeable.
– Contrast – Solid bright whites and light pastels may blend in with skin tones and backgrounds more. Dark colors contrast more, making people’s silhouettes more apparent.
– Predator avoidance – Some research suggests insects avoid bright whites, oranges, and yellows as these can resemble poisonous species.
– Frequency reflection – Metallic fabrics may reflect light/infrared at frequencies that confuse mosquito vision or deter feeding.
– Associations – Mosquitoes may have learned to associate bright whites and light colors with unappealing hosts and environments.
Best Colors for Repelling Mosquitoes
Based on current evidence, the colors considered most effective for deterring mosquitoes include:
– Light green
– Khaki or beige
– Silver or metallic
These shades seem to be less attractive to mosquitoes compared to darker-toned colors. Wearing clothing in these colors may help reduce mosquito activity and bites.
How to Use Color to Repel Mosquitoes
Here are some tips for using color strategically to avoid mosquitoes:
– Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants – This protects more skin surface and the lighter shades are less appealing.
– Choose light-toned hats – Hats in shades like white, tan, or light pink can help cover the head and face while being less attractive.
– Use brightly-colored mosquito nets – Bed nets treated with insecticide provide an extra layer of protection at night. Opt for white or light green nets.
– Pick light-colored camping gear – Campers can look for tents, sleeping bags, and packs in light blues, lavenders, or grays.
– Install yellow bug lights – Yellow bulbs are less attractive to insects. Use them around outdoor gathering spaces.
– Paint porches light colors – Shades like light green, pale yellow, or robin’s egg blue won’t draw mosquitoes to entry areas as much as darker paints.
– Use reflective ribbons – Metallic silver and reflective tapes can be hung near gathering areas to deter mosquitoes.
Other Mosquito Precautions
While color can be one strategy, keep in mind other steps for avoiding mosquitoes:
– Use EPA-registered insect repellent – Topical repellents applied to exposed skin also deter bites. DEET, picaridin, IR3535 are effective options.
– Install fans – Cooling fans make it harder for mosquitoes to fly and to detect carbon dioxide and sweat.
– Wear loose, long clothing – The more skin covered, the less exposed surface area for bites. Breathable fabrics help avoid heat buildup.
– Limit time outdoors at dawn/dusk – Mosquito activity peaks at the start and end of the day. Avoid prime feeding times when possible.
– Drain standing water – Eliminate sources of standing water around the home where mosquitoes can breed.
– Use citronella candles/torches – The citronella oil aroma masks human scents and repels mosquitoes.
– Apply permethrin – Treating clothing and gear with permethrin provides additional bite protection.
– Use mosquito-repelling plants – Plants like citronella, marigolds, basil can deter mosquitoes in landscaping.
Mosquitoes are drawn to darker colors so selecting lighter-toned clothing and gear can provide an effective deterrent. Shades on the lighter end of the spectrum like light greens, yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, and metallic fabrics seem to be less attractive to the insects in lab and field studies. Along with other precautions like insect repellents and protective clothing, light-colored attire can be part of an overall mosquito bite prevention plan. Wearing lighter shades is a simple way to reduce mosquito interest and decrease annoying and potentially dangerous bites, especially during warmer seasons when exposure is higher.