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Catnip Wards Off Mosquitoes and Ticks

Catnip Wards Off Mosquitoes and Ticks
Bug insect itch west nile

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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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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