A couple of our readers recommended catnip essential oil as a superior mosquito repellent to DEET, in response to Janel's recent post: Traditional Mosquito Repellent? The mosquitoes in my yard have been so vicious this summer that I decided to purchase some catnip oil and try it out.
Catnip oil doesn't come cheap. It was $16 at my local food coop for a small dropper bottle. Mosquito specific blends are available online for about the same price, but I decided to purchase locally.
First attempt: I diluted the oil for more economical coverage - 10 drops to one ounce of water - and applied it to my legs and arms. I then went out to my vegetable garden, where the mosquitoes seem to live, and was promptly "eaten alive". It did not work.
Second attempt: A few days later I decided to try again, this time at full strength. Back to the garden, and it worked like a charm! It has the slight odor of alcohol as that's what it's dissolved in but its no worse than that of deet.
Grow Your Own
Not only does catnip work against mosquitoes, but the plant that produces it a great visual addition for a functional yard scape. The plant you need is a perennial herb called Nepeta cataria. If you can't find it at your local nursery, various online seed companies carry it.
There are a few recipes online but here is one I'd like to try:
Catnip and Rosemary Mosquito Chasing Oil
- 2 cups catnip, stemmed
- 1 cup rosemary, cut in 6-inch sprigs
- 2 cups grapeseed oil or any light body-care oil
Roll herbs lightly with a rolling pin and pack into a clean jar. Cover with oil, seal jar and place in a cool, dark cupboard for two weeks. Shake jar lightly every day or so for two weeks. Strain into a clean jar, seal and refrigerate for up to 8 months unused. To use, rub on exposed skin.
Plant information and Recipe from SeattlePi.com & written by Ann Lovejoy.
Top Photograph by Darlyne A. Murawski via National Geographic.