I saw a commercial for Cortizone Cream or something that said “Did you know that mosquitos are attracted to dark clothes?” I had never heard that before and I was wondering if it was actually true.
It is true, but it is perhaps the least important signal mosquitoes use to hone in on their victims. The commercial would sound a little different if they told the whole truth:
“Did you know that mosquitoes are attracted to as many as 400 different chemical signatures emanating from your body in the form of sweat, most of which you can do nothing about? Sure, you’re wearing dark clothes and can change them, but the real problem is that you smell!”
People smell differently to mosquitoes. Some people are naturally more attractive to mosquitoes than others. Changing your dark shirt to a light one will delay bites, but not prevent them.
The mosquito attack sequence works something like this:
- Visual: Watch for movement. If something dark moves, fly toward it.
- Thermal: If carbon dioxide is detected, fly even closer.
- Olfactory: Sniff out any tasty odors. Feed on the one who has the “best” smell.
Here’s a basic paper on the subject of mosquito attraction. A Google search will bring up a dozen others.