Q. Recently you discussed how to avoid ticks and other creepy-crawlies in the summer. Some studies show that catnip oil is as good as DEET in repelling mosquitoes, and geranium oil likewise is effective for ticks. I use a combination of the two on my dogs and myself and we’ve never had any problems with ticks, fleas or mosquitos. I hope that helps someone else.
A. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a plant in the mint family that is probably best known for its behavioral effects on cats. The oil from the plant, nepetalactone, has been found to be comparable to DEET in warding off some species of mosquitoes, ticks and mites (Phytochemistry, Jan. 2011). There is also research suggesting that catnip oil repels stable and house flies (Medical and Veterinary Entomology, Sept. 2009). Catnip oil may irritate the skin of some people.
Swedish researchers have found that geranium oil at a fairly high concentration is a good tick repellent (Journal of Medical Entomology, July 2006). Thanks for suggesting these natural approaches.

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  1. Ankit
    Reply

    I have grown Catnip in my garden and I must say it is really effective against mosquitoes, house flies and aphids. The only problem with catnip is that it has some behavioural side effects on pet cats :(.
    When my pet cat (meeow) goes near it, she starts rolling on the ground and becomes aggressive. Can anyone tell me how to deal with this?

  2. janelane
    Reply

    lemon eucalyptus oil sprayed on the skin works but has to be reapplied every half hour or so. neem oil works but it smells horrible. i use it mixed with water and a little bit of soap to keep spider mites off of my plants as well.

  3. JannH
    Reply

    I tried this a couple of summers ago. Grew my own catnip (in hanging pots to keep it out of reach of several neighborhood cats) – made sure it was the real-thing catnip. Found a recipe for the catnip mosquito spray on the internet. Don’t have the recipe any more, but the person who posted it said it worked, and the solution seemed pretty strong to me.
    It didn’t work to deter mosquitoes at all as far as I could tell. It did work to attract the neighborhood cats to me. One day I had a tiny piece of the freshly picked catnip in my pocket as I walking in the yard – a neighborhood cat that usually ignores me followed everywhere I went, meowing the whole way.
    To the original poster, have you tried to deter mosquitoes with catnip, in any form, without the DEET or other additive? Just wondering.

  4. Sherry
    Reply

    I like the idea of a natural repellent but no directions were given. Where to get and how to use would have been nice to have included.

  5. Cindy B.
    Reply

    Well, nothing ever bites me because of the supplements I take, including high-B complex and garlic… So far this summer I haven’t used repellant even once, kept windows open, have spent lots of time outside at night — and exactly one bite so far. (I admit, it’s much worse in the mountains… those blackflies would bite chunks of flesh off an elephant!)
    My cats love me, but they would love me SO much more if I were covered in catnip oil! Also, I wonder what would happen if one were in the woods and a bobcat or cougar came along… would catnip oil disarm their bad intentions? By the way, I think you can buy this oil at pet supply stores.

  6. Fred
    Reply

    Where do you get either one?

  7. STEVE
    Reply

    Will you or other readers show more precise facts about catnip oil and west nile virus mosquito protection? Are there other negatives other than skin irritation that you indicated? What type of stores [local] sell catnip oil and how what recipe mix is suggested? How often does it need to be reapplied? — and so forth.

  8. Julie713
    Reply

    Exactly how do you use catnip to repel mosquitoes? Rub it directly on the skin? Make a lotion or oil? Drink it in a tea?

  9. D Leonard
    Reply

    What about the use of these oils on cats?

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