published about 9 hours ago
The colors in your outdoor patio might be attractive to guests, but according to science, it could also be attractive to unwanted visitors: mosquitoes.
A recent study from the University of Washington has found that, in addition to the odor of carbon dioxide, colors can also be inviting to swarms of mosquitoes. The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, involved an experiment wherein the pests were introduced to a room with CO2 and various colored dots. Using 3D-tracking technology, the scientists were able to tell which colors the mosquitoes hung around the most.
The result? The notorious yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) flew faster and lingered longer around colors like red, orange, black, and cyan, while they didn’t respond as much to colors such as green, purple, blue, and white.
The researchers also conducted the same test on other mosquito species, namely, An. stephensi and Cx. quinquefasciatus. They found that the insects were drawn to orange and red, with purple a third favorite.
Why do they swarm around these particular colors? It could be that mosquitoes associate orange and red hues with human skin and blood. But it’s important to note that they’ll only react to these visual cues if they smell carbon dioxide, which is their signal that mammals are around.
“Mosquitoes appear to use odors to help them distinguish what is nearby, like a host to bite,” researcher Jeffrey Riffell told Sci-News. “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 study’s findings add to the belief that the color of clothes can attract mosquitoes. A black shirt, for instance, can invite more insects than a light-colored one. As for the color of your decor, it’s unknown if there’s enough CO2 around these areas to trigger the visual cues. But, to be on the safe side, maybe don’t bring an orange blanket and red pillows while wearing a cyan sweater the next time you lounge around the patio at night.