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Why certain colours might make you more attractive to mosquitoes

Health & Science

A study has shown that mosquitoes are attracted to certain colours more than others. [File]

You may be more susceptible to mosquito bites  if you wear red, black and orange clothes, a new study has revealed.

The recent study published in Nature Communications reveals that mosquitoes tend to avoid other colours like green, purple, blue and white.

A group of scientists from the University of Washington found that the insects mainly find their next meal from the carbon dioxide emitted from exhaled breath, with colour of clothing also determining a victim’s level of attraction.

The study focused on three disease-spreading mosquitoes; the Aedes mosquito, Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, which can spread dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever and yellow fever viruses.

Also studied was the Anopheles stephensi, known as the Indo-Pakistan malaria mosquito, which is the main vector of  malaria in urban India. Then there was the Culex quinquefasciatus, which transmits zoonotic diseases that affect humans and other animals.

“The results of their study showed that mosquitoes (Aedes sp.) are attracted to red and black cloths, with darker colours being more attractive than lighter shades,” the study noted.

“Sensitivity to orange and red correlates with mosquitoes’ strong attraction to the colour spectrum of human skin,” the study said.

It also revealed that mosquitoes are attracted to the colours found in human skin, but only in the presence of carbon dioxide, meaning the smell of human breath, acts as an initial attraction.

While carbon dioxide is odourless to humans, mosquitoes can smell it and trace the source of blood with the scent. Sweat and skin temperature also attract mosquitoes, the researchers said.

“So what does this mean for the average person who doesn’t want to get bitten? You could try wearing white, blue or green and avoiding black, red and orange.

“Definitely avoid red and black checked patterns,” Cassandra Edmunds, a lecturer in forensic biology at Bournemouth University noted in her review published at theconversation.com.

Ms Edmunds said that while adjusting your clothing may reduce the risk of being bitten, there is no guarantee it will, or how effective this will be, particularly given the apparent variation in colour preferences between species.

“But these findings do suggest that with more research, colour could potentially be used as a tool in mosquito control,” she said.

The study also revealed that mosquitoes did not have preferences in skin colour.

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