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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

Mosquitoes Becoming Resistant to DEET

By February 23, 2013

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Mosquito (USDA)The gold standard in mosquito repellents is DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide), a chemical patented by the U.S. Army in 1946 as a broad-spectrum biting insect repellent. You'll find DEET in military mosquito repellents and most commercial products. The molecule blocks the chemical receptors for carbon dioxide and lactic acid in mosquito antennae, which are their main method for finding blood. Even mosquitoes that locate DEET-treated skin don't bite, possibly because they don't like the taste or smell of the chemical. However, BBC News reports that DEET is losing its effectiveness against mosquitoes. Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have noted mosquitoes are repelled by DEET the very first time they are exposed to it, but aren't deterred by it anymore.

The researchers applied DEET to skin before exposure to Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that spreads yellow fever and dengue. DEET repelled the mosquitoes, as expected. However, the next time the researchers applied DEET and offered their skin to the mosquitoes, some of the mosquitoes came in for their meal. By attaching electrodes to mosquito antennae, Dr. James Logan and his team discovered the chemoreceptors had become less sensitive to DEET, so the mosquitoes did not 'smell' it as much. The results may not extend to all species of mosquitoes and DEET is still recommended for use in areas with a high density of disease-bearing mosquitoes, but it appears the insects are evolving to work around the leading repellent. The results of the study are published in the journal Plos One.

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Comments

February 26, 2013 at 4:49 am
(1) ramzeena says:

awesome realy its good from ths v can avoid so many insects nd v can contorl the diseases

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