DEET confuses mosquitoes

Scientists suspect the repellant messes with a mosquito’s sense of smell

By Stephen Ornes, 09:48 AM October 12, 2011





DEET is an insect repellant that fights biting backyard bugs like ticks, chiggers and mosquitoes. A DEET-treated arm can spare a person from an itchy bite, and in a new study, scientists suggest that the repellant works so well by targeting a bug’s sense of smell.


“The effects of DEET are not straightforward,” Maurizio Pellegrino told Science News. “We think…the insect doesn’t know exactly what it is smelling.” Pellegrino is a neuroscientist — someone who investigates the brain and the ner...

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