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DEET Insect Repellent
DEET (diethyltoluamide) was first developed in 1944 for the US military and is still one of the most widely used and effective active ingredients in insect and mosquito repellents today. Its potency is due to insects, and especially mosquitoes, intensely disliking the smell of DEET which they actively try and avoid. However, to humans, DEET only has a faint inoffensive odour. The 'chemical' smell that most people associate with DEET is often just a perfume additive or natural plant extract such as natural pyrethroids.
DEET insect repellent comes in varying strengths from 30% up to 95%. The basic rule is the higher the percentage of DEET the more effective it is and the longer it will be effective. Application rates vary for the different strengths and also depend on your activity. For example, if you are perspiring a lot or are entering water then you will need more applications. The UK Health and Safety Executive has deemed DEET safe for use on the skin, but it can be harmful if it comes in to contact with your eyes or your mouth.