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Are Mosquitoes Immune to Deet?

Of all the irritations nature has to offer, few are more bothersome than the buzzing of an annoying mosquito and the itching left in its wake. Many rely on insect repellents containing DEET to keep these pesky critters away, but is DEET still effective? Is it possible mosquitoes can become immune to the insect repellent?

What is DEET?

What Chemicals Does it Contain?

DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) is a widely used insect repellent. It is described as a slightly yellow oil and usually mixed with other chemicals to create a topical solution or aerosol spray. The most popular form of DEET is a 30% solution, though higher concentrations can be found.

How Does DEET Work?

DEET works by masking the natural scents found on human skin that attracts mosquitoes. This effect is further enhanced when the chemical is continuously re-emitted from the skin. Additionally, DEET can also act as an irritant for mosquitoes, dissuading them from landing on an individual’s skin by creating a feeling of discomfort when in contact with humans.

Are Mosquitoes Immune To DEET?

Can Mosquitoes Develop Resistance?

Researchers have been investigating whether mosquitoes were able to develop a resistance to DEET. Studies have shown that while mosquito species are able to grow accustomed to DEET, it would take thousands of generations for any level of resistance to develop. In popular terms, the study concluded that mosquitoes would be unable to develop a resistance to the chemical during a person’s lifetime.

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Will Mosquitoes Avoid DEET?

Although mosquitoes are not able to develop a resistance to DEET, they can still learn to avoid it. A study found that when mosquitoes were exposed to large amounts of DEET, they eventually learned to avoid it. The same cannot be said of lower concentrations, such as the 30% solution normally used.

What’s the Best Way to Use DEET?

The best way to use DEET is to not apply it directly to skin, but rather objects like clothing or mosquito nets. If applied directly to the skin, it can dry out or damage it. Low concentrations are also recommended for regular use, as it is the most effective way to prevent the mosquitoes from becoming acclimated to the solution.

People Also Ask

How Long Does DEET Last?

The duration of DEET’s efficacy depends on its concentration and the climate. Generally, a 30% solution should last for about eight hours.

What are the Health Risks of DEET?

Excessive exposure to DEET can pose certain health risks. The most notable effects include skin rashes, shortness of breath, nausea, and headaches.

Are There Other Insect Repellents?

Yes, other insect repellents are available as an alternative to DEET. Picaridin and lemon eucalyptus oil are two of the more popular alternatives.

Is DEET Safe to Use Around Children?

Yes, DEET is safe to use around children, though healthcare experts recommend using a milder solution of 10-20%. It is also advised to not directly apply the insect repellent to children’s skin.

Final Words

Insect repellents, such as DEET, help protect humans from the annoyance of mosquito bites. But are mosquitoes immune to DEET? Studies have concluded that although mosquitoes are able to learn to avoid DEET, they are unable to develop a resistance to the chemical during a person’s lifetime. As long as it is used correctly and in low concentrations, DEET is a viable means of mosquito protection.