MSU Researchers Working to Combat Resistant Mosquitoes

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If you thought the mosquitoes have been worse this summer than in years past, you just might be right.

But this time, it might not have anything to do with the weather.

Scientists have found an alarming trend developing in the past few years in which mosquitoes are starting to grow resistant to some of the insecticides used to keep them away.

Researchers at Michigan State University are working now to determine how to combat the problem to keep disease-carrying pests at bay.

Ke Dong, a professor of entomology at MSU is leading the project and she said the most common type of insecticide--pyrethoids--is losing its upper hand as bugs continue to adapt and mutate.

"Insecticide resistance is really a serious global problem," Dong said. "Different species of pests develop a resistance to all kinds of insecticides."

Dong said it's a problem that isn't slowing down any time soon.

"It's a race against time, in fact, because this is a very rapid evolutionary process," she said. "In some cases you only need like one or two years if you use it extensively enough in the field."

But Dong and her associates at MSU are close to a possible solution. They've been able to find different receptors on the bugs that can still react to the pesticides even when the other ones have mutated to become resistant.

This opens the door to the possibility of combating other cases of developed resistance if mosquitoes were eventually to develop a mutation to resist the chemical DEET, which is found in most common household sprays.

"Right now resistance to DEET is not an obvious problem yet but we do have to be cautious because if they could develop resistance to pyrethoids, they could develop a resistance to that too."

The research is not only shedding light on how to fight resistance in mosquitoes but also in several other pests like bed bugs, fleas and cockroaches, which are all pests that have increasingly become resistant to insecticides too.

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