Science gets the deets on DEET

Science gets the deets on DEET

Insect repellent appears to repel mosquitoes by confusing them

By Rachel Ehrenberg, 14:11 PM September 20, 2011

The insect repellent DEET doesn’t actually repel insects — it confuses them. New research suggests that DEET gums up sniffing machinery, sabotaging an insect’s sense of smell.

Nerve cells that send odor-related signals to the brain respond differently to DEET if it’s sniffed alone or with other scents, experiments with fruit flies reveal. DEET’s effects also vary depending on what variety of smell-receiving machinery catches the scent, and whether it’s a whopping dose or just a whiff, a te...

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