Want mosquitoes to pass you by? Don’t wear dark clothing

Business Insider SA
A bigger-than-average mosquito.
From the illustration series "Giant Insects Destroy the City". (Getty)
  • Mosquitos find you through the carbon dioxide you breath out, and are attracted by the way your skin smells.
  • If you don't want to stop breathing, and can't change the way you smell, you're not entirely out of luck.
  • Wearing lighter-coloured clothing will help, and keeping a fan going is also a good idea, says an SA expert in malaria control.
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Mosquitoes are probably going to find you, unless you learn some unlikely skills, such as not breathing.

But there are some things you can do to improve your odds of not being bitten. Or, to put it differently, to improve the odds that someone else gets bitten instead.

Mosquitoes find their targets by detecting carbon dioxide, says Taneshka Kruger, project manager at the University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control. The types of mosquito who like to snack on humans are attracted by skin odour, which depends on the microbes living on your skin. Scientists are currently studying how that can be used to help repel mosquitos, but until that yields fruit you're best off trying to beat the "secondary cues" used for target detection. 

See also | SA scientists have found perfume holds the answer to the growing threat of outdoor mosquitos carrying malaria

"Avoid wearing dark colours, as this attracts mosquitoes," says Kruger, because the insects "'see' their targets as silhouettes, and darker colours stand out more."

It is also worth keeping in mind that mosquitoes tend to stay close the ground – so you may not want to – and "avoid even the slightest breeze", so keeping a fan going will help.

Watch: Why mosquitoes are attracted to some people more than others

The age-old advice of wearing long sleeves, and socks, still holds, and chemicals can be your friend.

"Anti-mosquito sprays or insecticide dispensers are useful, and it is a good idea to burn mosquito coils at night," says Kruger.

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