You may already know that mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, the gas that mammals expel when they breathe. You may also know that mosquitoes use infrared light as another way to track living animals. But, you may not know that mosquitoes are attracted to certain colors of the visual spectrum. This is brand new information just recently discovered.
A Washington University studying the Aedes mosquito found that the parasitic insect is attracted to red, orange, black and cyan, but they ignore other colors, such as green, purple, blue and white.
What’s interesting is that these mosquitoes are only attracted to the color after they are stimulated by the carbon dioxide smell that we described earlier. This may be an evolutionary mechanism so that the mosquito doesn’t waste time going after everything red, black or orange in color. Only after they sense that precious carbon dioxide do they start paying attention to the colors.
Only female mosquitoes bite. They do this to gain access to the blood supply of their victim in order to gain the nutrients needed to reproduce. It is for this reason that scientist have been experimenting with genetically modified mosquitoes which basically render the female infertile. The goal is to greatly reduce the pest without using pesticides. If the experiment is a success it can be used to save the many people still threatened by disease carrying mosquitoes in the underdeveloped world.
Perhaps the knowledge contained in this article will help you choose what you wear to the 4th of July picnic this year. Maybe you can run your own experiment and wear the colors which do not seem to attract mosquitoes and see if it makes any difference. If it does make a difference make sure to share this information with your friends. They will probably exclaim “why didn’t you tell me!?”