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Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Light?

Last Updated: 29.05.20

 

If you’re like us and you’ve got a mosquito problem, our latest article is bound to help you out one way or the other. Knowing if light attracts mosquitoes is very important when thinking about new and imaginative ways to get rid of them. While they are drawn to it, this phenomenon happens in specific circumstances so being informed really pays off. 

 

Why Do We Need To Know This?

You have surely had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night to that irresistible itch on more than one part of your body or because you can’t sleep due to an annoying buzz sound near your ears.

As little as we like it, mosquitoes will be your constant uninvited guests during the summer when you’re at home, on your patio or even inside your tent when you go camping. Even though many people are simply interested in finding out about ways to repel them, it’s always important to have a little information on your enemies so you can understand them.

 

 

What Exactly Is A Mosquito?

Other than probably the most stubborn insect on the planet, a mosquito is classified as a two-winged fly with more than 3,500 known species divided under three subfamilies. 

Contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes don’t feed on blood. Both the male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar but the females also look for victims in order to suck the blood they need to develop and lay their eggs. 

Most of them feed all through the day at dawn, dusk, and night. This feeding state is also the time when mosquitoes are able to transmit a wide array of viruses and other pathogens that can cause some of the world’s deadliest diseases.

While not all mosquitoes are disease-carriers, the impact of the ones that do carry pathogens has been high enough to make many people be afraid of them. Therefore, if you know you’ve got some of those species in your region, do exercise caution.

 

How Do They Bite?

Believe it or not, mosquitoes don’t actually have a mouth. Instead, they feed through something called a ‘’proboscis’’, which is an insect’s mouth part. To the naked eye, a proboscis will look like a single tube-like snout while a microscope look will show you that it is actually made of six different parts. 

The first two pairs are called ‘’the mandible’’ and ‘’the maxillae’’ and they are used to pierce through the skin and flesh of the victim in search of the capillary bed. Once it finds it, the two bigger tubes spring into action to deliver the mosquito’s saliva and suck out the blood. 

It is due to the insect’s saliva that the blood does not clot and our body will react to it by triggering a reaction often seen as that red, itchy bump on our skin that is so associated with a mosquito bite. 

 

Are They Really Attracted To Light?

So we’ve finally reached the most important question: Are mosquitoes really attracted to light or it is all a scam? 

Actually, during the daytime, mosquitoes tend to scurry away from direct exposure to sunlight because they can easily dehydrate and die from it. However, this is only true during the day as they are really nighttime creatures which use light to help them navigate when they fly. 

It’s also important to understand the fact that bugs and mosquitoes don’t see light the way us humans do. They need distant sources of it like those from the moon and the stars to be able to maintain a correct flight path until they can arrive at their destination. 

Oh the other hand, any source of artificial light is a great no-no for mosquitoes. The fact that it is so close confuses them into being unable to keep a correct flight path and that is why they bump into it. So this is one of the reasons why they seem to be flying directly into the light on your front porch or from the street. They are trying to find the logic of that light being there.

Another reason is that the mosquitoes are drawn to the carbon dioxide in the air because that is usually what their hosts – us – emit and it makes it easy to find a food source. So simply put, these bothersome insects are not attracted to our type of light but they are used to guide themselves after natural, farther-away sources. 

 

 

Why Does This Happen?

As we said, mosquitoes and other flying insects find certain lights irresistible and they are known to travel some distance just to reach it if they believe it to be in their interest, which most of the time is feeding.

In scientific terms, they are called ‘’phototaxis’’ insects, which simply means that the light attracts them. By comparison, some other bugs such as cockroaches are negative phototaxis, meaning they will go out of their way to avoid any source of light. 

There are several theories to why the positive phototaxis insects are so attracted to the sources of light. One of them, as we said, is that the light confuses their navigation system and makes them fly straight into the bulb emitting it. 

Others seem to think that flying insects seem to judge the light as an easy, open path to fly by and this is why they choose this course of action. Unfortunately, as we know, most of the time they end up roasted on the same bulb they were attracted to a few moments before. 

 

Using The Information To Your Advantage

Knowing what type of light mosquitoes actually prefer can help you decide which outdoor lights to choose for your house and which to avoid. Science seems to show that they are most attracted to UV lights that have a cool, blue tone so this is the reason why the bug zapping devices use a blue-violet color.

Therefore, the key to creating a mosquito-free, beautiful evening on your porch or terrace is making sure your light bulbs are not magnets for these insects. Since they usually come out at night, compact fluorescent bulbs attract the most types of flying bugs because they beam violet wavelengths which are basically a lighthouse for all-things mosquito.

Another fan-favorite seem to be the older LED lights that many of us still use for our homes. The insects love them because they emit a high amount of UV light. Therefore, keep in mind that the number of invaders trying to enter your house will certainly be higher if these sources can be seen from the outside.

To keep them away, use yellow lights in your outdoor areas as these are not so inviting because they emit less UV. Newer LED light bulbs are also created with reduced UV and blue light levels to make them less of a magnet. Furthermore, there are also some special bug lights out there on the market which, claim their makers, are able to attract 20 percent fewer bugs. 

The myth to dispel here is the belief that red and yellow light bulbs will actually repel mosquitoes. Technically speaking, the term ‘’repel’’ means to drive back or repulse something from coming at you. In this case, the wording is incorrect because these lights will not drive back the insects, they will just be less attractive to them than the other ones.

If you still prefer to use LED lights for your outdoor areas, for any type of reason, you should at least make sure to choose yellow LED lights instead of blue-toned ones. This way, you can make sure you’ll enjoy a night with your family without having some uninvited guests trying to make you their own dinner!

 

 

 

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