First News - - SCIENCE NEWS -

SCI­EN­TISTS have learned more about DEET, the in­sect re­pel­lent that pre­vents us from be­ing bit­ten by mosquitoes.

Di­ethyl­tolu­amide, as it is also known, was in­vented in the 1940s to pro­tect US soldiers from creepy-crawlies in trop­i­cal coun­tries. It soon be­came widely avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic as a spray or liq­uid, and has saved many peo­ple from be­ing cov­ered in mos­quito bites.

New re­search sug­gests DEET may not re­pel bugs, but con­fuses them in­stead. A study from Amer­ica reck­ons DEET in­ter­feres with the neu­rons (nerve cells) that help crea­tures smell their sur­round­ings. The re­sult is that bugs be­come con­fused and can’t detect our odours, which is what at­tracts them to have a nib­ble on us.

The re­search shows that DEET also works on spi­ders, ticks and other pests – not just on in­sects.

A mos­quito feast­ing on hu­man blood

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