Wondering if mosquitoes are attracted to light?
Great, Pest Strategies has your answers!
In this guide you’ll learn:
- What mosquitoes are
- A little bit about mosquito bites
- If mosquitoes are attracted to light or perhaps something else?
- If mosquitoes are attracted to red or yellow light bulbs and some interesting mosquito myths
Surely, you have already experienced waking up in the middle of the night because of that irresistible itch on various parts of your body or because of that annoying buzz sound near your ears.
Whether we like it or not, mosquitoes are our constant uninvited guests at home, on our patio, or inside our tents when camping. But as much as we want to know the solutions to repel these blood thirsty insects, most of us don’t know much about them.
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
What is a mosquito?
Mosquitoes are probably the most stubborn type of insects that we know. They are classified as a two-winged fly with more than 3,500 species under its three sub-families – the Anophelinae, Calucinae, and the Toxorhynchitinae.
Both the male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar. The female mosquitoes, however, venture on sucking blood from their victims in order to acquire enough blood needed for the development of their eggs.
Most female mosquitoes feed at dawn, dusk, and night. And it is in this feeding stage that mosquitoes are able to transmit a wide variety of viruses that cause some of the world’s deadliest diseases.
Mosquitoes breed where there is standing water, and in warm and humid environments. One of the best things you can do to reduce mosquito populations on your property is to remove standing water.
This also means cities like Atlanta, Nashville, and Jackson, MI, are typically going to experience worse mosquito populations with longer mosquito seasons. Other regions like Killeen, TX, in central Texas, will have mosquito populations year round because of their warmth – but will experience peak activity from May to October.
What about mosquito bites?
Mosquitoes feed through the help of proboscis – the insect’s mouth part. The proboscis of the mosquito may look like a single tube-like snout. But if you take a closer look and with the help of a microscope, you’ll be able to see that the mouth part of the insect is actually composed of six parts.
The first two pairs are called the mandibles and maxillae which act as the blades of the proboscis piercing through the skin and flesh of the victim as it plunges its proboscis deeper in search of a capillary bed. Once it finds a viable blood vessel, the two bigger tubes of the proboscis spring into action. The first is the hypopharynx which delivers the insect’s saliva and the labrum which sucks the blood.
The mosquito’s saliva is composed of proteins which prevent the blood from clotting. The body of the victim reacts to this foreign object triggering a reaction which is often seen as that red itchy bump on our skin.
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Are mosquitoes really attracted to light?
At daytime, mosquitoes usually scurry away from direct exposure to sunlight because they will dehydrate easily and die. However, this doesn’t mean that they avoid all types of light.
In fact, mosquitoes are like most night time bugs. They use light to help them navigate through places. But bugs and mosquitoes don’t see light the way humans do.
Light from the moon and stars are so far away that bugs and mosquitoes are able to maintain an angle with respect to these natural sources of light until they are able to arrive to their destinations.
Artificial light on the other hand (such as those found on our porch and on the streets) is so close that bugs are unable to maintain a good angle for clear navigation and this confuses them!
Put it simply, mosquitoes aren’t really attracted to light.
They are just trying to find a logical sense of their environment through it. Mosquitoes are MORE attracted to carbon dioxide because that’s what their hosts usually emit, making it easy to find their food source.
This being the case, most mosquito killing products (like mosquito traps) use carbon dioxide to attract mosquitoes, not light. These products will emit carbon dioxide and them trap the bug resulting in its death!
If you’re trying to reduce a mosquito population, grab a mosquito trap instead of a bug zapper. This is because bug zappers tend to attract many different bugs (some beneficial insects like preying mantis and bees) instead of just mosquitoes. Traps use carbon dioxide to specifically target mosquitoes.
For more information on this topic, we recommend checking out this video from Smarter Every Day. This guy really makes good stuff and should be able to hammer home the key points.
Red and yellow light bulb for mosquitoes? Myth?
Have you ever encountered a friend or a relative giving you and advice about using red and yellow light bulbs to repel mosquitoes?
That’s actually just a myth.
As mentioned earlier, bugs and in this case the mosquitoes, are unable to see light the way we do.
We all know that light has different wavelengths and mosquitoes have significantly smaller visible spectrum compared to humans. This simply means that the color (e.g., red and yellow) of the lights are actually undetectable for them.
Technically speaking, the term repel means to drive back or repulse something. Red and yellow light bulbs don’t actually repel mosquitoes.
In fact, we’ve found some research that proves mosquitoes are actually MORE attracted to blue and green lights than red lights.
Final thoughts on lights and mosquitoes
Light neither attracts nor repels mosquitoes. The idea of mosquitoes getting attracted to light is actually just a misconception of the insect’s disorientation towards the light prior to navigating their destinations.
Some lights (red and yellow) however, can be used to make us less visible to these insects. But this doesn’t guarantee that mosquitoes will not be able to spot us because they are simply packed with powerful senses.