Submitted to: Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/11/2013
Publication Date: 3/18/2013
Citation: Dickens, J.C. 2013. Mode of action of insect repellents. Journal of Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology. DOI:10.1016/j.pestbp.2013.02.006
Technical Abstract: The mode of action of DEET and other insect repellents has been a topic of interest since the discovery of DEET in the mid twentieth century. Nearly 60 years have passed since DEET applied topically to the skin was shown to be effective in preventing mosquito bites. With the discovery and characterization of odorant receptors in insects, modern technology has provided the tools necessary to characterize the effects of insect repellents at the molecular level. Now DEET has been shown to modulate responses of odorant receptors to chemical signals, thus scrambling messages sent to the brain of the insect leading to disruption of behavior. Taste receptor neurons have also been shown to detect DEET resulting in inhibition of feeding. These studies and other recent results provide a better understanding of how insect repellents exert their effects and insight into strategies for discovery of chemicals with enhanced repellent activity.