It’s part of summertime life in the Capital Region: clouds of mosquitos waiting to strike. Nothing ruins a lovely night out faster than getting covered in itchy, ugly red welts courtesy of Satan’s flying spawn. It feels even worse when you are the only one in your friend group or family that’s getting bit – like you’re a lightning rod for the little buggers and you may ask, “Why me???”

Close-Up Of Mosquitoes
(Photo by Tom Ervin/Getty Images)
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New research from the University of Washington may finally have an answer to your furtive plea. If you’re trying citronella candles, bug spray, and that freaky electric zapper thing and still getting eaten alive, maybe its time to change your wardrobe.

The UW scientists previously thought mosquito attraction relied on only three factors: sweat, skin temperature, and breath (purely based on carbon dioxide output, not whether you need a mint).

Getty Images
Getty Images
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So how does clothing come into play? This sounds odd, but mosquitos can “smell” colors. They have an entirely different perception of the visual spectrum than humans. As it turns out, just like a cartoon character floating after a delicious pie once they catch a whiff, mosquitos feel the same, drooly way about the color red.

Human skin, no matter the shade we see, lets off orange-red frequencies, so when mosquitos combine carbon dioxide with that color palette, all they see is a big neon all-you-can-eat buffet sign. When the UW scientists put mosquitos in a human skin/blood/etc. environment with solely CO2 and multi-colored dots, they discovered that just the combo of the gas plus red, orange, yellow, or black was irresistible while light colors like green, blue, or purple were ignored like hot coleslaw.

We should have known. (Photo: Paramount)
We should have known this was dangerous. (Photo: Paramount)
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It’s already a common practice in European and African cities on the Mediterranean, where city walls and homes will be painted light blue because it wards off the blood-suckers, now there’s scientific proof behind that. So, the next time you go out this summer, stick with blues and greens and you may find yourself feeling much less itchy by the time you’re home! (I’m not going to recommend telling your friends to wear shades of red as an extra line of defense because I’m not the devil.)

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