Why does DEET kill ants?


I have DEET bug spray for mosquitos. From what I read, it interferes with the way that mosquitos smell, causing them confusion and preventing them from smelling the individual wearing it.

Recently, I’ve started spraying ants in my home with it. They all slow down substantially, walk strangely, and then die. And they don’t seem to come back where I’ve sprayed, for days.

Why is this? Why would a chemical which causes mosquitos to just not be able to smell cause ants to act strangely and die?

In: Chemistry

Without smell an ant loses its ability to find a path home and will wander until it dies of starvation or finds its way home.

Because it’s also a fairly toxic chemical. DEET will probably kill a human if they take a bath in it, which is basically what you’re doing to an ant.

Ants breathe through tiny pores in their bodies. If you coat those pores with a poisonous oil like DEET, the ant’s got a serious problem.

I believe DEET specifically affects the neurological system; effectively making the mechanics of their bodies not work anymore.