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    • Make Your Own Mosquito Repellent

      MYO: Sparkling Apple Cider-mosquito.jpgDid you know that Studies have proven that Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET?!

      CHICAGO, August 27 -- Researchers report that nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its characteristic odor, is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET -- the compound used in most commercial insect repellents. The finding was reported today at the 222nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, by the same Iowa State University research group that two years ago discovered that catnip also repels cockroaches.

      Entomologist Chris Peterson, Ph.D., with Joel Coats, Ph.D., chair of the university's entomology department, led the effort to test catnip's ability to repel mosquitoes. Peterson, a former post-doctoral research associate at the school, is now with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Wood Products Insects Research Unit, in Starkville, Miss.

      While they used so-called yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) -- one of several species of mosquitoes found in the United States -- Peterson says catnip should work against all types of mosquitoes.

      Aedes aegypti, which can carry the yellow fever virus from one host to another, is found in most parts of the United States. Yellow fever itself, however, only occurs in Africa and South America, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Vaccines and mosquito control programs have essentially wiped out the disease in the United States, although there have been isolated reports of unvaccinated travelers returning with the disease. The last reported outbreak in this country was in 1905.

      Peterson put groups of 20 mosquitoes in a two-foot glass tube, half of which was treated with nepetalactone. After 10 minutes, only an average of 20 percent -- about four mosquitoes -- remained on the side of the tube treated with a high dose (1.0 percent) of the oil. In the low-dose test (0.1 percent) with nepetalactone, an average of 25 percent -- five mosquitoes -- stayed on the treated side. The same tests with DEET (diethyl-m-toluamide) resulted in approximately 40 percent to 45 percent -- eight-nine mosquitoes -- remaining on the treated side.

      In the laboratory, repellency is measured on a scale ranging from +100 percent, considered highly repellent, to --100 percent, considered a strong attractant. A compound with a +100 percent repellency rating would repel all mosquitoes, while --100 percent would attract them all. A rating of zero means half of the insects would stay on the treated side and half on the untreated side. In Peterson's tests, catnip ranged from +49 percent to +59 percent at high doses, and +39 percent to +53 percent at low doses. By comparison, at the same doses, DEET's repellency was only about +10 percent in this bioassay, he notes.

      Peterson says nepetalactone is about 10 times more effective than DEET because it takes about one-tenth as much nepetalactone as DEET to have the same effect. Most commercial insect repellents contain about 5 percent to 25 percent DEET. Presumably, much less catnip oil would be needed in a formulation to have the same level of repellency as a DEET-based repellent.

      Why catnip repels mosquitoes is still a mystery, says Peterson. "It might simply be acting as an irritant or they don't like the smell. But nobody really knows why insect repellents work."

      No animal or human tests are yet scheduled for nepetalactone, although Peterson is hopeful that will take place in the future.

      If subsequent testing shows nepetalactone is safe for people, Peterson thinks it would not be too difficult to commercialize it as an insect repellent. Extracting nepetalactone oil from catnip is fairly easily, he says. "Any high school science lab would have the equipment to distill this, and on the industrial scale it's quite easy."

      Catnip is a perennial herb belonging to the mint family and grows wild in most parts of the United States, although it also is cultivated for commercial use. Catnip is native to Europe and was introduced to this country in the late 18th century. It is primarily known for the stimulating effect it has on cats, although some people use the leaves in tea, as a meat tenderizer and even as a folk treatment for fevers, colds, cramps and migraines.

      A patent application for the use of catnip compounds as insect repellents was submitted last year by the Iowa State University Research Foundation. Funding for the research was from the Iowa Agriculture Experiment Station.

      Chris Peterson, Ph.D., is a former post-doctoral research associate at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, and is now a Research Entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Wood Products Insect Research Service, in Starkville, Miss.

      Joel R. Coats, Ph.D., is professor of entomology and toxicology and Chair of the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

      Source: American Chemical Society
      Comments 19 Comments
      1. Seaira's Avatar
        Seaira -
        I am going to try this. With Spring in the air I need all the help I can get to be rid of all the mosquitoes that we seem to have.
      1. jeanette60621's Avatar
        jeanette60621 -

        Nice, cannot wait to make and try it out...
      1. my4mainecoons's Avatar
        my4mainecoons -
        I have been using this ALL Summer since I first discovered it and I have to tell you that I am AMAZED at how well it works. Our house borders a small pond and normally we get wicked chewed up by the mosquitos. Thank you Liss!
      1. SSmith's Avatar
        SSmith -
        This is wonderful, thank you so much!! I can't wait to give it a try and have it 'steeping' in the cupboard as I type. Liss do you by any chance have a fly repellant or would this work for them as well? We live out in the middle of a farming countryside, and we seem to get over-run with flies (blue bottles, house flies, horseflies, you name 'em, we've probably got them) and they come in the house when we have the doors or windows open, which drives me (and the dog) nuts. We use those horrible sticky traps (which is just disgusting and I hate hearing them trying to get free, makes me feel horribly cruel) and I hate splatting them with the fly swatter and getting bug guts on the wall or where ever...just EWWW...so any idea how to keep these awful creatures, which I'm sure have some good reason for being on our planet earth, out of my house? Thanks!!
      1. Snowbird's Avatar
        Snowbird -
        I read the article but saw no recipe. Any help?
      1. Liss's Avatar
        Liss -
        Quote Originally Posted by Snowbird View Post
        I read the article but saw no recipe. Any help?
        the recipe is in the flash image in the article. You must have javascript enabled to see the 5 second clip
      1. tonitig's Avatar
        tonitig -
        Quote Originally Posted by Snowbird View Post
        I read the article but saw no recipe. Any help?
        Check the top of the page on the right upper corner. I understand you have to have the latest version of Java installed to see it.
      1. liana6205's Avatar
        liana6205 -
        I will have to try this... I wonder if drinking catnip tea and perspiring it would do the same thing as spraying it on?
      1. vtaylor724's Avatar
        vtaylor724 -
        Is vinegar the only medium suitable to mix the catnip with? Would something like witch hazel work as well?
      1. bnlady79's Avatar
        bnlady79 -
        I don't have Java enabled, apparently. Can anyone tell me the recipe and if I can just buy catnip essential oil and mix with whatever medium/carrier liquid is recommended? Thanks in advance.
      1. RubyPeaches's Avatar
        RubyPeaches -
        is there a special species of catnip that is best to grow for this recipe?
      1. Mommaj5321's Avatar
        Mommaj5321 -
        This is great. Must try this summer
      1. Rie142's Avatar
        Rie142 -
        Quote Originally Posted by bnlady79 View Post
        I don't have Java enabled, apparently. Can anyone tell me the recipe and if I can just buy catnip essential oil and mix with whatever medium/carrier liquid is recommended? Thanks in advance.
        Catnip Mosquito Spritz
        created by Budget101.com
        Makes about 3 Cups

        2 Cups Catnip, stemmed
        3-4 cups mild rice vinegar
        Rinse herbs, crush lightly then place in a clean quart jar
        cover with vinegar. seal jar
        store the jar in a dark cupboard for two weeks

        Shake jar lightly every day or so for two weeks. Strain into a clean jar,

        seal. This can be refrigerated for up to 6 months.

        To use put in a spritzer and spritz on exposed skin and around outdoor dining

      1. FreebieQueen's Avatar
        FreebieQueen -
        Quote Originally Posted by bnlady79 View Post
        I don't have Java enabled, apparently. Can anyone tell me the recipe and if I can just buy catnip essential oil and mix with whatever medium/carrier liquid is recommended? Thanks in advance.

        Sorry, you'll need to enable java to view it, this was done to prevent the recipe from being copied & pasted all over the internet.
      1. Ruthnaomi's Avatar
        Ruthnaomi -
        I'm a newbie can't wait to try this. Living in the south mosquitoes can be torture for gardeners.
      1. Myava's Avatar
        Myava -
        Trying to view it on my iPad, can't get it. Does anyone have the recipe?
      1. Myava's Avatar
        Myava -
        Thanks for posting the recipe
      1. lem66ans's Avatar
        lem66ans -
        cant wait will try it out
      1. joyundefined's Avatar
        joyundefined -
        Super excited to try this one out! I'm allergic to mosquitos, and benadryl and I are not friends. Hopefully this will save me a lot of money since we have catnip growing in the garden right now!

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