Are mosquitoes becoming immune to DEET? - KMSP-TV

Are mosquitoes becoming immune to DEET?

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There are just 26 days until spring, and with the warmer weather will come our best little friends: mosquitoes.

We are told year-after-year to make sure to put on bug spray with DEET. And while it still may be the best product out there to keep the skeeters away, it may not being doing as good of a job as we hope.

A group of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine discovered that three hours after an exposure to DEET, many mosquitoes were immune to the chemical, ignoring its typically noxious smell and attempting to land on irresistible human skin.

Usually, mosquitoes stay away from us when we have bug spray on because they can't stand the smell of DEET.

In previous studies by this group and others, researchers found particular mosquitoes with a genetic mutation that made them innately immune to DEET, but they say this case is different, because they didn't demonstrate this ability from the start.

So, what's happening to the bugs in this study? Well, they think the mosquitoes' antennae are becoming less sensitive to DEET over time.

It would be like you walking into someone else's home and smelling a strong odor. But, the person who lives there doesn't smell it because they've become used to it.

One catch in all of this is that mosquitoes only live for a few days, so they odds they've come across DEET already is low. And they don't pass anything along to their offspring, so for mosquitoes to become immune they would have to be around a lot DEET in the first day of life.

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