Breakthrough Promises Vastly Better Bug Repellents

New compound 'thousands time more effective than DEET'

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 15, 2011 9:13 AM CDT

(Newser) – Life may soon get a lot tougher for mosquitos and other bugs that like to dine on human blood. Researchers have discovered a compound that completely jams an insect's sense of smell, making it much harder for mosquitos to find their prey, Discover reports. Early tests suggest that the compound is thousands of times more effective than DEET, the active ingredient in most mosquito repellents, and appears to work on all insects, including flies and ants.

The compound overwhelms insect odor receptors, creating a "repellant effect akin to stepping onto an elevator with someone wearing too much perfume, except this would be far worse for the mosquito," the lead researcher tells Science Daily. Much more research remains to be done but the team, whose research was conducted as part of an anti-malaria project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, believe their discovery will someday lead to powerful new commercial bug repellents.

Researchers say they 'threw the kitchen sink' at the problem to find a molecule that could block insects' sense of smell.
Researchers say they 'threw the kitchen sink' at the problem to find a molecule that could block insects' sense of smell.   (Shutterstock)
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