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Skeeters & Bees Roundup

September 12, 2008

Mosquitoes think DEET just stinks, and researchers team up to save native bees.


Repelling mosquitoes and attracting bees. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A few months ago, we reported that the insect repellent DEET keeps mosquitoes at bay by confounding their sense of smell, so they can’t find you. Now a new study contradicts that research. It found that to mosquitoes, DEET just stinks. The team even found the chemoreceptor in the mosquito’s nose that detects the DEET. Now you may say, who cares as long as it keeps them off you. But knowing how DEET works is critical to developing new repellents that are just as effective, but less toxic.

In other bug news, scientists at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America are trying to save native bees. Like honeybees, native bees have been declining, and that could be a catastrophe for the crops and other plants that rely on them for pollination. The researchers are developing land use policies to preserve bee habitat. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.