Mosquitoes hate Deet, but the exact reason was unknown. Scientists now think they have discovered why the insects find the remedy so annoying: the answer is in their legs.
Deet has been on the market for more than 70 years, but now scientists are really beginning to understand why mosquitoes hate DEET so much. The remedy – a commonly used ingredient in creams and sprays to keep mosquitoes away from your body – appears not to repel mosquitoes through contact with their snouts, but through touching their legs. The researchers, including those from Rockefeller University, hope that this insight will help in the development of new anti-mosquito medicines. The results appeared in Current Biology.
The scientists put Deet and other bitter substances on parts of their arms, and then put them in a cage with harmless mosquitoes. They did something similar with plastic membranes filled with blood, whereby the mosquito could stick through untreated plastic or plastic contaminated with Deet or other bitter substances.
Mosquitoes hate Deet
The result: just like a bitter substance, the mosquitoes find it annoying to drink, but if only muzzle or legs come into contact with it during a landing, it doesn’t bother them. At Deet, developed during the Second World War to protect soldiers against tropical mosquito diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, the picture looked completely different. Pieces of skin or plastic coated with the anti-insect agent avoided the animals like the plague.
Apparently, only contact of the mouthparts with Deet is insufficient to ward off the mosquito, contact with legs plays a crucial role in the success of the anti-mosquito remedy.
DEET is simply the common name for N, N-Diethyl-m-toluamide. It’s been in use as an effective insect repellent since it was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946