Aedes aegypti mosquitoes exhibit decreased repellency by DEET following previous exposure

PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e54438. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054438. Epub 2013 Feb 20.


DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide) is one of the most widely used mosquito repellents. Although DEET has been shown to be extremely effective, recent studies have revealed that certain individual insects are unaffected by its presence. A genetic basis for this has been shown in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, but, for the triatomine bug, Rhodnius prolixus, a decrease in response to DEET occurred shortly after previous exposure, indicating that non-genetic factors may also be involved in DEET "insensitivity". In this study, we examined host-seeking behaviour and electrophysiological responses of A. aegypti after pre-exposure to DEET. We found that three hours after pre-exposure the mosquitoes showed behavioural insensitivity, and electroantennography revealed this correlated with the olfactory receptor neurons responding less to DEET. The change in behaviour as a result of pre-exposure to DEET has implications for the use of repellents and the ability of mosquitoes to overcome them.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Arm
  • Arthropod Antennae / drug effects
  • Arthropod Antennae / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • DEET / toxicity*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insect Repellents / toxicity*
  • Insecticide Resistance / drug effects*
  • Smell / drug effects


  • Insect Repellents
  • DEET