It may still be winter, but the fine researchers at the University of Washington have conducted an experiment that may help people like my wife and daughter - aka people who mosquitoes love to feast on all summer long.

It's no secret that if you're standing outside with a group of people during mosquito season, some people are going to end up covered in bug bites while some of them walk away without a single nibble. Scientists might be a step closer to figuring out exactly why that is.

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For starters - and I'm not a scientist, so let me dumb this down a bit as I understand it - mosquitoes are firstly attracted to the air we exhale, which of course is CO2, or carbon dioxide. When they literally smell our breath, that's a signal to them a tasty living human is nearby for them to feast on.

What happens next is what the researchers have been looking into. They have determined that once a mosquito is triggered by the scent of the air we exhale, they then seek out certain colors.

Aedes aegypti Mosquito

Mosquitoes are apparently attracted to black, red, orange and cyan.

Researchers had a chamber full of mosquitoes, with several different colored dots inside the chamber. They would attract mosquitoes with a squirt of CO2, then watch which colors they flocked to. By the way, cyan is that light teal looking cross between green and blue, if you weren't sure.

A University of Washington professor of biology, Jeffrey Riffell, offered further details. “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,” said Riffell in a press release documenting the study.

Young man wearing mosquito netting suit in forest, smiling, portrait
Getty Images


So which colors did the mosquitoes ignore?

The researchers documented that mosquitoes seemed to avoid the colors white, green, blue and purple.

“One of the most common questions I'm asked is ‘What can I do to stop mosquitoes from biting me?’” said Riffell. “Filtering out those attractive colors in our skin, or wearing clothes that avoid those colors, could be another way to prevent a mosquito biting.”

In case you're wondering if this was all just a huge coincidence they go to certain colors and not others, without any CO2 being sprayed, the mosquitoes basically ignored all the dots, no matter what color. But after squirting a little CO2 into the air, the little buggers continued to flock toward the red, orange, black and cyan dots while ignoring the green, blue and purple dots.

Again, I'm not a scientist so don't blame me if this doesn't work this summer... but if I were you, I'd make like Prince and start stocking up on some purple apparel.

Frank Micelotta, Getty Images
Frank Micelotta, Getty Images

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