With the prevalence of mosquito borne diseases, such as West Nile Virus, it’s important to wear a protective mosquito repellent. Unfortunately, nearly all repellents contain DEET, a chemical which is dangerous to humans, especially children. According to a study conducted by Duke University Medical Center, DEET can cause brain-cell death and neurological damage. But what other options do you have? How about catnip? Iowa State University researchers report that nepetalactone, catnip’s essential oil, is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.
As a member of the mint family, catnip is primarily known for its intoxicating effects on cats. It is also used in tea, and as a natural remedy for fevers, colds, cramps, and migraines. With this latest research indicating its effectiveness as a mosquito repellent, it’s surprising that companies manufacturing repellents haven’t produced a green alternative to DEET. Fortunately, catnip is an easy to grown perennial herb, and you can make the mosquito repellent yourself. Check out these two recipes provided by the Seattle PI, but be advised that the Iowa State researchers warn that pure catnip oil is too strong to put directly on your skin. You only need 1-5% of the essential oil for it to be effective.