DEET- the gold standard of mosquito repellents

DEET repellents

N,N-Diethyl-meta-toulamide or also known as DEET is a gold standard active ingredient in repellents for more than 60 years.  Millions of people around the globe use DEET based repellents since 1950s. It makes humans smells awful to mosquitoes.

How it work

Dr Cameron Webb, a Sydney University based entomologist said

“There’s been some debate about how DEET actually works,”

“We weren’t sure if it blocks the blood- feeding behaviour of mosquitoes or if it simply smells so bad that mosquitoes actively avoid it”

Furthermore, researchers from University of California studied the response of a Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito to DEET, non-Deet and other chemical compounds.

They concluded that DEET activated an odour receptor in the antennae of the mosquito, sending it off to look for sweeter smelling skin.

Reality speaking, a mosquito- free holiday is challenging to achieve especially in warmer countries.

Here are some tips for avoiding mosquito bites:

  1. Pack a suitable repellent.

DEET with a higher concentration, lasts longer.

For example a repellent with 40% lasts 6 hours while those with 20-30 % protect for 4 hours.

Picaridin is another highly effective insect repellent and equally recommended by health professionals.


  1. Travelling with children
  • Use lower dose DEET repellents especially for children as young as 3 months old
  • Always supervise and assist children apply repellents as it needs to be done correctly and thoroughly.
  • Let your doctor know if your child has a skin condition and discuss other alternatives
  • For babies in stroller, bring a light gauze netting for protection.


  1. Wear light- coloured and loose clothing such as long sleeves, socks and pants. If expecting to trek or spend time outside for long periods consider using a head net.


  1. Use Permethrin to treat your clothes, bed sheets and mosquito nets.


  1. Stay indoors during peak times of mosquitoes. These include dawn, dusk and early evenings.


  1. Accommodation with installed screened windows and air- conditioned keeps mosquitos away while resting at night.


  1. Bring a mosquito net