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Better Mosquito Repellents: Just Buzz, for Now

Better Mosquito Repellents: Just Buzz, for Now
Photograph by Douglas Allen/Getty Images

Mosquitoes, the most dangerous beasts on earth, have killed more people than all the wars in history. They often sniff out human prey, which is why scientists have spent several years studying the tiny insect’s powerful sense of smell. And while the research may not go far in stopping the spread of such deadly diseases as malaria (bed nets, insecticides, and other options seem more effective), it may allow scientists to create better bug sprays, according to a Seattle Times article. Whether those superior repellents will ever hit the market, however, is another question.

Many of the new options being explored function by impairing or manipulating a mosquito’s sense of smell. One, called the Kite Patch, is a cloth square that, “allows humans to go virtually undetected by mosquitoes for up to 48 hours,” according to maker, Olfactor Laboratories, a startup that raised $557,000 on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The patch, which is not yet on the market because it still has to undergo third-party safety and effectiveness testing, is infused with non-toxic compounds that block the insect’s ability to detect carbon dioxide, which the startup says is “their primary method of tracking human blood meals.”