Mosquitoes "like" certain colors: study reveals which

Nadiya DanyshchukLife
Scientists explain why mosquitoes are attracted to certain colors

Scientists have found that mosquitoes are attracted to certain colors, including red, orange and black. Conversely, they ignore green, purple, blue and white.

A new study conducted by experts from the University of Washington has shown how mosquitoes search for their prey after they smell it. The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Communication.

Human skin, regardless of pigmentation, emits a strong red-orange "signal" that mosquitoes respond to, the scientists said.

"When these insects smell certain compounds, such as CO2 from our breath, that smell stimulates their eyes to scan certain colors and other visual patterns associated with a potential prey and head toward it," explained lead study author Jeffrey Riffell, PhD, of Washington University Biology.

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The findings show how mosquitoes' sense of smell affects their response to visual cues.

"One of the most common questions I get asked is, "What can I do to keep mosquitoes from biting me?" I used to say that there are three main signs that mosquitoes look for prey: your breath, your sweat and your skin temperature. In this study, we found a fourth sign - the color red, which can be found not only on your clothes, but on everyone's skin," Riffell said.

In their experiments, the team of scientists monitored the behavior of female mosquitoes. After all, only females of most mosquito species are known to drink blood.

The researchers placed the insects in test chambers, where they sprayed specific odors and presented different types of visual images - for example, a colored dot or a human hand.

Without any scent stimulus, the mosquitoes ignored the drawn dot on the bottom of the chamber, regardless of its color.

After spraying CO2 into the chamber, however, mosquitoes flew toward it if it was red, orange, black, or blue. If the dot was painted green, blue or purple, the little bloodsuckers ignored it.

Scientists explain it this way: humans can't smell the CO2 they exhale, while mosquitoes can sense it. It increases the activity level of the females and they start looking around for the source of the smell to find food.

Scientists have compared this to the situation when a person walking down the street suddenly smells something "delicious," such as cinnamon pies, and starts looking for a bakery or bake sale place to eat.

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"In the study, we studied what visual elements mosquitoes look for after smelling their 'bakery version,'" Riffell explained.

Experiments with colored dots showed that after smelling CO2, mosquito eyes prefer a certain wavelength in the visible spectrum.

Humans see different wavelengths of light as different colors: for example, wavelengths of 650 nanometers appear as red and wavelengths of 450 nanometers appear as blue.

Researchers don't know if mosquito eyes perceive colors the same way human eyes do. But most of the colors that mosquitoes prefer after they hear the smell of carbon dioxide -- orange, red and black -- correspond to longer wavelengths of light.

When researchers used filters to remove long-wavelength signals or put a green, purple, blue or white glove on the hand, mosquitoes did not fly to the irritant after spraying in the CO2 chamber.

Knowing which colors hungry mosquitoes react to and which they are indifferent to can help develop more effective methods of repelling the insects.

As reported OBOZREVATEL, Britain has created flying robots the size of an insect, they will be used for artificial pollination of plants on large areas.

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