Ensuring Bite-Free Picnics

Ensuring Bite-Free Picnics

Author: David Bradley

US scientists have identified the underlying chemistry that makes insect-repellants containing DEET and citronellal so repellant to mosquitoes. They have worked out how the disease-carrying insects “taste” DEET, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, and “smell” citronellal, a monoterpenoid aldehyde, 3,7-dimethyloct-6-en-1-al.

Three taste receptors on the insects’ tongue and elsewhere are required for DEET detection while smelling citronellal is enabled by TRP protein channels. Activation of these molecular receptors sends a chemical message to the mosquito brain triggering an aversion response.

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