Start stocking up on bug zappers, because your Deet-filled mosquito repellant probably isn’t going to save you at the barbecue this summer.
MSN reports that researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are saying that although most mosquitoes are turned off by the neurotoxin Deet when they first encounter it, they get used to it pretty quickly.
Scientists tested the theory by covering a human arm in Deet, and exposing it to mosquitoes. At first, the annoying bugs avoided the arm, but within just three hours, they got used to it and started sucking away on the subject’s tasty blood.
Researchers attached electrodes to the insects’ antennae and found that after first exposure, their olfactory systems changed, causing them to become desensitized.
Dr. James Logan, one of the school’s researchers, said : “The more we can understand about how repellents work and how mosquitoes detect them, the better we can work out ways to get around the problem when they do become resistant to repellents.”
Dr. Logan noted that it is important to understand permanent genetic and temporary olfactory changes that take place in mosquitoes. Though he said that people in areas with a high concentration of mosquitoes shouldn’t stop using Deet repellants, he noted that researchers need to come up with a more effective deterrent, reports the BBC.
“Mosquitoes are very good at evolving very very quickly,” he said.
The findings are published in the journal Plos One.
Do you think that scientists can come up with a better mosquito deterrent than Deet?