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Mosquitoes Beginning To Ignore DEET Repellent 232

Copper Nikus writes "An article at the BBC makes a shocking claim about mosquitoes. It appears some individual insects in the wild have developed the ability to ignore the very popular DEET repellent after a first exposure. From the article: 'To investigate why this might be happening, the researchers attached electrodes to the insects' antenna. Dr Logan explained: "We were able to record the response of the receptors on the antenna to Deet, and what we found was the mosquitoes were no longer as sensitive to the chemical, so they weren't picking it up as well. "There is something about being exposed to the chemical that first time that changes their olfactory system - changes their sense of smell - and their ability to smell Deet, which makes it less effective."'"
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Mosquitoes Beginning To Ignore DEET Repellent

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  • Umm, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @12:38AM (#42975997)

    Yeah, it's called evolution.

  • Re:Umm, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:14AM (#42976229)

    He probably is. Cynicism gets you modded up on Slashdot.

  • Re:Umm, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:43AM (#42976391)

    Except that doesn't seem to be the mechanism here


    Dr Logan said it was vital to understand both these permanent genetic and temporary olfactory changes that were taking place.

    He said: "Mosquitoes are very good at evolving very very quickly."

    So there are genetic chsnges being attributed to this along with the scientist saying mosquitos are good at evolving quickly. Yeah, clearly it's not evolution. *rolls eyes*

    But, you know, don't let that stop this thread turning into another Evil Religion Suppresses Science flame-fest.

    Funny, no one was doing that. Defensive much?

  • by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:54AM (#42976451)

    Maybe but maybe not. And if those creatures die off too it will continue to ripple. This is why your idea is majorly naive and short-sighted.

  • Re:evolution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:00AM (#42976481) Homepage Journal

    I'll bite. Because we can adapt our environment to us instead of the other way around. Because we can protect and allow the"weaker"* members of our species to propagate. These two factors mitigate against "survival of the fittest".

    * There is no judgement implied by in the term weaker.

  • Re:evolution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gordo_1 ( 256312 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:08AM (#42976527)

    What makes you think that our rightful genetic destiny must be toward smarter and smarter human beings? We may have reached a point where evolutionarily, we're already as smart as we're likely ever to get due to pressures that you nor I can completely comprehend. What we're starting to understand is that evolution proceeds in fits and starts and many dead ends toward a somewhat unpredictable concept of 'fittest'.

  • Re:Umm, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @02:32AM (#42976625)

    There is a difference.

    This is more like a human losing sensitivity to skunk or ammonia smells for the rest of their life... after smelling them once.

    It is really more akin to some humans who have unhealthy very bad digestive systems until they get a stomach parasite infection.. once.

    Then they are fine the rest of their lives.

  • Re:evolution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:02AM (#42976725)

    Actually, humans are continuing to evolve. Only the selective pressures are different.

    The traits that are now selected for are those that are suited for our human-altered world in which dangerous things have warning labels, not those traits that used to be wonderful 20,000 years ago on the savannah, but that's the whole point.

    Similarly, those who you call "genetically weak" aren't. They might have been were genetically weak on the savannah when your support group consisted of 20 uneducated protohumans, but in a world filled with medicine and technology, they are perfectly fine, and better adapted than some schmuck who puts all his energy into making powerful immune systems to destroy smallpox viruses and guinea worms that no longer exist.

  • Re:Umm, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @06:43AM (#42977671) Homepage Journal

    You're assigning way too much intelligence to evolutionary processes. Evolution is more of a by-product than a directed process in the way that you are thinking.

    Any one mosquito may have had a random mutation that makes them more or less tolerant of DEET. The mosquitoes the ones who are more repelled by DEET are more likely to die from lack of food, so each generation the mosquitos who are most tolerant - through whatever means - are the ones that reproduce. The cycle repeats for their kids. Overall the trend will be towards greater resistance.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.