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New UW research zeroes in on why mosquitoes are so attracted to human

SEATTLE — No more mosquito bites! That could be reality thanks to groundbreaking research done at the University of Washington.

Researchers have zeroed in on why mosquitoes find humans so attractive.

In a basement lab of the UW Life Sciences Complex, researchers have cracked the code to keeping mosquitoes away. The team ran them through a wind tunnel to see which colors they came after.

The mosquitoes were attracted to red, orange, black and cyan while ignoring green, purple and white.

The researchers believe this finding could help explain how mosquitoes find hosts. Human skin, regardless of overall pigmentation, emits a red-orange “signal” to the mosquitoes, the study said.

Knowing which colors attract the insects could help with designing better repellants, traps and other methods.

The study also said that mosquitos appear to use odor to distinguish what is around them.

“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 senior author Jeffrey Riffell, a UW professor of biology.

The team then bred a mutant mosquito with altered genes for vision - not seeing red meant no rush to find people.

Mosquitoes minus their vision for certain colors could mean no bites curbing the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as the zika virus, dengue and malaria.