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Are Mosquitoes Immune to Deet?

For years experts have recommended anyone spending time outdoors to apply deet to the skin to ward off mosquitoes. A new study, however, is finding that mosquitoes aren’t as repelled by deet as we thought.


Deet was first created by US Military during World War II and in 1957 was introduced to American households. The oil is a main ingredient in most bug sprays and is said to protect against mosquito and tick bites when applied to the skin. The bugs are supposedly repelled by the smell and back away when introduced to it.

Deet, in some areas, is becoming less effective against mosquito bites. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine decided to test the theory that mosquitoes become immune to deet. As Dr. James Logan from the school explains; “The more we can understand about how repellents work and how mosquitoes detect them, the better we can work out ways to get around the problem when they do become resistant to repellents.”

In the test, a (very nice) volunteer offered his/her arm to mosquitoes after it has been sprayed with deet. At first, the mosquitoes wouldn’t bite the arm (nor did they die). However, when they were given another chance just a few hours later, the deet didn’t stop them from biting. They smell of the product didn’t seem to bother them enough to stay away from the treated arm.

Dr. Logan explains that more research is needed to truly understand how the mosquitoes’ reaction can change so drastically in a short amount of time, but hopes that it will lead to better mosquito control options.

Deet is a strong chemical that when used incorrectly can be damaging. If you use the product, please refer to the EPA’s page on deet and how it should be applied.

I personally have never liked the smell of bug spray. Although I would put it on before hiking or walking in the woods, I always showered as soon as I could to get the stench off. At Mosquito Squad, we do not provide topical mosquito control or repellent, but instead protect against mosquitoes by treating vegetation. Our spray kills mosquitoes on contact and continues to protect for up to 21 days. We do suggest applying some kind of bug spray to the body when spending times in untreated areas, but it’s not needed in your Mosquito Squad protected yard.

While we can’t guarantee that you will never see a mosquito on your property, we do guarantee your satisfaction with our service. If you aren’t happy with the reduction in your mosquito population, Mosquito Squad is happy to come out and respray your property. Contact your local office to schedule your first application.

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* Tick control not available in MI without a license

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