Wear dark clothes to avoid ticks?

From a report by CBS’ Dr. Holly Phillips yesterday, she  reminds us  that Lyme disease can be just as easily picked up in ones own backyard.

In the piece, a Dr. Zivin-Tutella mentions something that I have not heard before and have not yet confirmed:

Wearing light colored clothing lures ticks to you.

“They’re attracted to the light color. That’s why, typically, we tell people to wear darker colors and long-sleeve pants and shirts,” Dr. Zivin-Tutela said.


In the past, instructions to protect oneself included wearing light colored clothes so that the ticks were easier to spot.

It just goes to show that the information we are being fed from experts across the globe are consistently inconsistent.  The most prudent means of protecting oneself is by being overly cautious and assume the worst. 

For the CBS article: http://wcbstv.com/local/lyme.disease.deer.2.1764690.html


~ by Rob on June 23, 2010.

29 Responses to “Wear dark clothes to avoid ticks?”

  1. I have given this a lot of thought. The idea that ticks are not attracted to dark colors is ridiculous. Maybe those that believe this came to this conclusion because they can not see the ticks against dark colors and then surmise that there aren’t any.

    Ticks instinctively latch on to anything that brushes up against them, irrespective of the material’s color.

    You can run your own test by dragging pieces of different colored cloth on the ground and counting the tick difference between the colors. I believe that you will find little difference.


    • we went horseback riding today ,black horse , white horse , white dog . found 7ticks on white horse , 3 on dog ,NONE on black hose . we checked them over real good .did”nt think there was any difference either .Apparently there is .

      • Eileen,
        This is why I get concerned. When sources tell people that dark clothing is better, then they get the sense that they are safe from ticks. As you’ve witnessed, that’s lunacy.
        Are you in a warm or cold climate? Regardless, the ticks seem to be coming out of hibernation earlier each year. Hope all pets and people are doing OK.

  2. Are brown colored deer not atractive to ticks?

  3. i thought ticks can crawl and maybe also jump a foot or maybe even more and because of that people that are near may be affected. people with light or dark colors may be more. I know that white cloth does have some attractiveness for some creatures like fleece and mosquitoes. If your area has mosquitoes, look up during the day and evening on the white ceiling and white walls, and you may find some. Fleece are the same, attach a white bed spread to the ceiling over the bed of a person and if that person has fleece, then overnight some fleece will travel to that white bed spread. take that bed spreading down and examine it really slow and really closely. My guess it has to do with them getting rest or/laying eggs, beeding, looking for a mate, whatever else, i dont know. Kind of strange though. but maybe same for ticks.

    • Although several types of arachnids can jump quite a distance, ticks are not one of them. They do drop onto animals and people so it is wise to be cautious around trees and bushes.

  4. Ticks will get on you no matter what color you wear, they just crawl on you or drop off trees on you when they sense your breath. Now I have read that wearing dark colors, sweating, perfume, even just movements attracts mosquitos, ugh. But Fleas, NOT “fleece” as repeatedly was spelled incorrectly in one of the post above, hehehe 🙂 , ticks and mosquitos are repelled by some essential oils like Lavender, Cedar Wood, Eucalyptus and many more but you have to be careful if you have pets when using those oils, especially Cats. Dogs and Cats can only tolerate a few essential oils so check with a holistic veterinarian.

  5. The irresponsibility of spreading this malarkey about dark clothing is outrageous. Since this posting is one of the site’s most popular posts, I want to clarify the study’s misleading hypothesis.

    The study’s findings actually suggest that darker clothes are approximately 9% less likely to attract ticks. This in truth indicates that regardless of the color of your clothes, ticks are going to latch on to you.

    At least light colored clothes are easier to detect ticks.

    Stay safe

  6. My son and I went fishing. I had on all black or dark blue. He had on gray sweat shirt. He got ticks dropping on him. I got none. And this is not the first time so yes I believe dark clothes are better. Tree mites also do not like dark clothing.

    • JD,

      I appreciate your experience, but, there are so many factors that weigh into whether a tick latches onto you, such as SCENT, etc. and it only takes one infected tick to screw up your life dramatically. Think about why some mosquitoes bite some people more than others.

      Based on the study’s results, people with darker skin are not at risk at all, and we know this to be factually absurd.

      For those out there willing to subscribe to this study’s findings, I wish you the best of luck.

  7. Kara,
    Thanks for sharing this keen observation.
    The irresponsible study that suggests dark colors detract ticks puts the public at greater risk for contracting this awful disease. For as long as I have been following this growing epidemic, I am dismayed at the dubious and dangerous advice that gets circulated by the “so-called” experts.
    Thanks again, and be safe,

    • Rob,
      I forgot to mention that I have all the crazy symptoms of Lyme Disease, as well as the co-existing diseases which come with it. I have other issues as well which I won’t go into on here. Of course, the testing for lyme which was done was inconclusive probably since I had been on antibiotics for a few years. This has been a which ago, so after giving up on most MD’s started researching natural health alternatives myself. Without going into to anymore, I am convinced I have Chronic Lyme even though it doesn’t “show up” in medical tests. The CDC states that my area of the country is at low risk for Lyme, therefore few docs have much knowledge. Of course I have known of many who have had it. I find it extremely frustrating that not much emphasis is put on it in our area. I live near Nashville. The notion that a disease would stay in a certain area of the country if absolutely absurd for many reasons. #1 People have cars and travel. #2 We have an extremely fast growing area with people moving for many parts of this country and others. #3 The CDC is run by the government…and I believe we are told what they want us to hear. Just wonder how stupid they think we are. As with aspartame, people are paid off to push things through. I suppose I’m pretty cynical in this regard. I’ve been an RN since 1985, but when started becoming ill with few answers from the docs decided to find them myself. Evidence based medicine has it’s place, but I tend to lean with eastern medicine given it’s been around a lot longer without payoff perks. Okay, done with my soap box. I’m new to your blog and am looking forward to reading more. Thanks for letting me publicly vent my opinions! Take care! Kara

  8. As a pest control owner for over 20 years and multi pet owner I have found that white attracts ticks. A simple trick is to tie a white t-shirt to a piece of string and slowly drag it across your lawn. If you have a tick problem you will see that your once white t-shirt will sure to attract a few ticks. Do not wear white!!!

    • Lynda,

      Thanks for the post. Have you ever performed the “drag test” with a dark colored shirt? If so, what was the outcome? It is my contention that the tiny black ticks are near impossible to find against a dark color. But, they are there.

      My dark colored shepherd picked up several ticks over the years. I only knew they were there once they bloated with blood or dropped off. But, they were there. And my dog was treated for LD on more than one occasion.

  9. If this were true why do moose carry 100,000+ ticks per animal. They are dark brown and 100’s of moose each year die from ticks.

  10. A tick dropped on me i was wearing blk shirt and blk hood sweatshirt my hair is blonde thats where i found him he jumped off my bully and onto me.clothing dark or light no difference.

    • Rebecca,
      Whoever came up with this study is completely self-serving and endangering the public. It gives people a false sense of security thinking that they are protected by wearing dark clothes.
      It also frustrates me when people are advised to wear high socks thinking that ticks can’t work their way to your skin. If nothing else, they will easily be carried back into your home where they will wait for more opportune time to latch on to somebody.
      Be safe,

  11. John Oliver provides a satirical explanation for why reports like this are so outrageous:

  12. You crazy people up there! Nobody is saying that ticks won’t get on you if you have dark clothing, or that dark clothing is a fail-safe against ticks. My experience is that ticks, and some other insects, are indeed attracted to white more than other colors, and this is not just because the bugs are more visible or noticeable on the white. You painters out there have likely had this experience with painting white outdoors. I was doing a 3-color deck: blue, cedar stain, and white. The gnats were all over the white painted boards, but not on the cedar or the blue. No, I don’t have a longitudinal scientific study, but sometimes shared experiences of observation can inform us. My wife and I were on a bike trail, not even in the woods, and she got 4 ticks and I got zero. She had on a white sweat shirt, I had on dark blue. Empirical evidence, no. Something to consider, yes.

    • Pat,
      Thanks for your input, but I’m not sure the northeastern flattery was not warranted.
      Your comments regarding the color of clothes not guaranteeing one’s safety is exactly what I was stressing. Most animals in the forest have dark colored fur and they are obviously targets for tics. I myself, rarely wear light colored clothes and yet I was bitten and sick for over 20 years. So, it is highly irresponsible for someone to promote this kind of study and give people the impression that they’re safe against being bitten.
      I hope people take better precautions.
      All the best,

  13. I wore a pair of black pants and wore them in the house and took them off in my computer room. That evening I was on the computer and found a tick on my hand. This has happened 3 more times in the past week and wonder why they are finding their way to my hand? I must have brought them into the room with my black pants but do you think the light of the computer is bringing them to my hand? Strange but true.

    • Sarah,
      Thanks for sharing you’re experience. I realize that people want to believe they are safe by wearing light colored clothes, but your example clearly shows that wearing dark colored clothes can still put you at risk.
      As far as I know, tics will gravitate towards your skin based on scent. As I’m sure you are aware, tics can easily find their way into your socks, clothing, or hair. So I do not believe color nor lighting plays a part.

      Regardless, I’m glad you found the tic before it caused damage.

  14. I ended up here when I looked up whether ticks were attracted to the colour red, as I was startled by an adult BL tick on my Dad’s red shirt I had in my laundry basket. It’s good to know that the ratio is small enough that colour of clothes doesn’t matter so much as continuing to be cautious. Tick-checks, bug-spray, showers and tucking in pants and shirts still seems like the safest route to me. Now I hope I can keep my mind off the buggers long enough to find some good birds this weekend!

  15. I love this my mom said they like dark clothes and I just proved her wrong!

    • Caroline,
      I would be very hesitant to consider this proof of any nature. I personally consider this study highly dubious.

      Regardless, I would lean on the side of caution and assume that ticks are attracted to scent and all colors.
      As anyone who has had Lyme disease knows, being overly cautious is a lot easier than fighting off Lyme symptoms.


  16. Went out into the fields and woods today with a black lab and a yellow one. 23 ticks on yellow, two on black. Not that hard to find on the black one as ticks here are actually brown. I can find them quite efficiently by feeling for them as well. Yellow guy alway comes home with many more. Went searching internet to see if color matters. Maybe the yellow dog tastes better?

  17. Interesting. I too have both a yellow and a black lab. The yellow always has more ticks than the black. I was finding this observation strNge so decided to google it and ended up here. I’m NOT saying you are safe wearing black, just adding to real life observations.

  18. I too noticed my white standard poodle with thick hair attracting more ticks than my other two dogs with smooth coats and darker colors. Googled to see if color mattered, apparently it does.

    • The anecdotal evidence contributed on this thread is extremely valuable. If correct, it implies that tics are drawn to lighter colors. It would also Prove that you can pick up tics wearing any colored clothes. And since it only takes one tic to become infected, people should not become complacent just from the color of clothes they wear.

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