We all know that bugs are attracted to light, but it got me wondering if bugs are attracted to anything else—like color. What color attracts the fewest bugs?
Red attracts the fewest insects. Light pastel colors work well to repel mosquitoes. Pink, yellow, and orange don’t attract quite as many bugs as other colors. Bees and wasps are attracted to yellow, but most other bugs don’t find it particularly appealing.
It’s a complicated topic and there isn’t much research to date on how color attracts bugs, but I’m going to share everything I’ve learned from doing a deep dive into the topic.
Here’s a summary based on the type of bug:
|Bug Type||Colors they are attracted to||Colors they can’t see or would be repelled by|
|Bees, wasps, and pollen beetles||Yellow, black furry/leathery objects||Red|
|Horseflies||Dark colors, moving objects||Black and white stripes|
|Mosquitoes||Dark colors||Light pastels|
|Butterflies||Red, yellow, orange||None/unknown|
What Color Attracts the Fewest Bugs?
Not all creatures see color the same way. While we see a broad spectrum of colors, bugs have trouble seeing certain hues.
There are millions of species of bug, so this blanket statement applies to most bugs, but not all of them.
There have been a select few studies performed on bugs over the years, though, and it’s evident that most of them don’t see red light very well. You can read more about this from bug experts here.
Their difficulty with red means that similar hues such as yellow, orange, and pink aren’t as attractive for them either. Therefore, these colors will attract the fewest bugs—most of the time.
What Do Bugs See Instead of Red?
Research and evidence related to how bugs see color is currently limited. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more in the years to come, though.
Right now, researchers believe that insects see red as black, and this might be bad news for you.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that bees are inclined to attack creatures that resemble predators that may attack their nests. Predators include bears and skunks, which both have black in their markings.
If something appears furry or leathery as well as black, then bees are even more likely to attack it.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to avoid wearing leather or fur black clothing around bees!
What Colors Do Bugs Hate?
Not all bugs have colors they hate, but house flies hate yellow, and horseflies are repelled by black and white stripes. Unfortunately, other bugs aren’t actively repelled by colors they can’t see, such as red.
Most bugs don’t care what color you wear or what color your stuff is, but let’s dive deeper into those fly facts below.
House flies hate yellow. University of Florida researchers have found that yellow activity repels these flies. If you’re in an area dominated by house flies, then wearing yellow should stop them from landing on you.
Studies have shown that while horseflies circle horses and zebras a similar amount, they don’t land on zebras as much. Researchers believe that this is due to their black and white stripes.
To further prove their theory, the researchers dressed horses in black and white clothing, and it worked to stop the horseflies from landing on them.
If you’re going to be in an area full of horseflies, then this is excellent news. The flies will still likely circle you, but they’ll land on your far less frequently if you don a black and white striped outfit.
Are There Any Colors That Attract Bugs?
Many bugs cannot see yellow, but unfortunately, it largely attracts those that can. Yellow attracts some of the worst pests you will encounter in the wilderness such as bees and wasps.
Wasps, bees, and pollen beetles love yellow. If you’re going to be in nature in the summer, then staying away from yellow is a good idea.
Insect experts often recommend that you never go camping or gardening while wearing yellow in the summertime, but you’ll usually be safe to wear it during spring or fall camping trips.
Some less harmful creatures love yellow too: butterflies. They also like red and orange.
Mosquitos love black, but other dark hues are attractive, too. Stay away from navy and forest green when you’re in a mosquito-ridden spot.
Meanwhile, horseflies like dark moving objects, so they won’t attack your tent, but they’ll target you if you wear black or dark brown and move around a lot.
What Colors Should I Use While Camping?
Pastel colors are best used on gear and clothing while camping, although red and orange are also safe to wear if your clothing isn’t furry or leathery. Avoid yellow and dark colors.
Does Tent Color Attract Bugs?
As some bugs like yellow, it’s a good idea to avoid using a yellow tent in summer. You should be fine if you select a red or orange tent.
If you use lights inside your tent then the red tent fabric will make the light appear red from the outside, and that’ll keep light-attracted insects away, too.
Dark tents are also a good idea if there are no mosquitos around.
If you want a catch-all tent color, then consider a light beige or pastel color, as insects are least likely to attack it.
Canvas tents are usually cream or beige, so consider learning about the pros and cons of canvas tents and selecting one for your trip.
What Colors Can You Wear to Not Attract Bugs?
If you don’t want to attract bugs, then wear pastel-colored clothes. Avoid yellow of course, but other colors are fair game.
With pastel clothing you’re avoiding the dark colors that attract horseflies and mosquitos, and you’re not wearing the vivid yellow that wasps and bees love.
What Color Lighting Won’t Attract Bugs?
Lighting is tricky, as many bugs are attracted to light in general.
The color they’re least likely to flock to is red, but red and orange lights are dull, and even yellow isn’t bright enough to light up your campsite. These colors only offer illumination if they’re very close to the object you’re trying to illuminate.
I recommend you use normal lights but suspended high above your site. Any bugs that fly to them will be too high up to bother you.
If you want to cook or read at night, then a red flashlight will help you see close-up objects. It won’t attract bugs while you’re using it.
Despite the limited research, there’s enough information available for us all to make educated guesses on what to do color-wise while camping.
Learn about the area near you so you can know what insects are there, and use the tips above to dress and set your lighting appropriately.
Don’t rely on wearing insect-repelling colors alone, though. Always bring bug spray when camping, and a screen tent will keep bugs out of your face, too.