Tick attachment and the colour of clothing

Document type: Conference Presentations
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Louise Stjernberg, Johan Berglund
Title: Tick attachment and the colour of clothing
Conference name: VII International Potsdam Symposium on Tick-Borne Diseases
Year: 2003
City: Berlin, Germany
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Health Science (Sektionen för hälsa)
School of Health Science S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Language: English
To prevent tick bites, personal precautions such as wearing light-coloured clothing, are generally recommended. It is believed that ticks are easier to detect on light-coloured clothing in comparison with dark-coloured clothing. Studies confirming this supposition have not been found and we do not know whether colour of clothing influences the tick´s choice of hosts. The aim of this study was to determine which colour of clothing had the least attractive effect on Ixodes ricinus and thus help to prevent tick borne diseases in humans.
The study was performed in the archipelago of the south-eastern Sweden. Ten participants, randomised into two standardised groups, were exposed by walking in squares measuring 25x25 meters. They were exposed 12 times, twice in each square; once with light-coloured and once with dark-coloured clothing. The nymphs and adult ticks on the clothing were collected and counted.
Totally, 892 nymphal ticks were collected and of
these 552 were found on light-coloured clothing and 340 on dark-coloured clothing. The total mean found number of ticks between the both groups differed significantly, with 21.2 more ticks per person on light-coloured clothing (p=0.003, 95% CI 9.37-33.03).
All participants had more ticks on light-coloured clothing in all periods of exposure.
In view of these straight results, the recommendation to use light-coloured clothing as
a personal precaution in tick endemic areas must be questioned. Dark-coloured clothing seems to attract fewer ticks.
Subject: Public Health\General