Beating the bite of mosquitoes this spring and summer could hinge on your attire and your skin. New research led by scientists at the University of Washington indicates that a common mosquito species — after detecting a telltale gas that we exhale — flies toward specific colors, including red, orange, black and cyan. The mosquitoes ignore other colors, such as green, purple, blue and white. The researchers believe these findings help explain how mosquitoes find hosts, since human skin, regardless of overall pigmentation, emits a strong red-orange “signal” to their eyes.
“Mosquitoes appear to use odors to help them distinguish what is nearby, like a host to bite,” said Jeffrey Riffell, a UW professor of biology. “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 results, published Feb. 4 in Nature Communications, reveal how the mosquito sense of smell — known as olfaction — influences how the mosquito responds to visual cues. Knowing which colors attract hungry mosquitoes, and which ones do not, can help design better repellants, traps and other methods to keep mosquitoes at bay.
“One of the most common questions I’m asked is ‘What can I do to stop mosquitoes from biting me?’” said Riffell, who is senior author on the paper. “I used to say there are three major cues that attract mosquitoes: your breath, your sweat and the temperature of your skin. In this study, we found a fourth cue: the color red, which can not only be found on your clothes, but is also found in everyone’s skin. The shade of your skin doesn’t matter, we are all giving off a strong red signature. Filtering out those attractive colors in our skin, or wearing clothes that avoid those colors, could be another way to prevent a mosquito biting.”
Read more at University of Washington
- Sweden: ‘The pandemic isn’t over, but it is moving into a new phase’
- Drug resistant Shigella infections in MSM on the rise in the UK
- New York City reports increases in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in females
- Lockdowns had no noticeable effect on COVID mortality: Johns Hopkins study
- India Newswire: Rare chickenpox deaths in Karnataka, Leprosy situation
- New York City announces the availability of Paxlovid COVID-19 oral treatment