Could catnip become the new insect repellent?
New collaborative research from Northwestern University and Lund University may have people heading to their backyard instead of the store at the outset of this year’s mosquito season.
“Catnip and its active ingredient, Nepetalactone, have been used for millennia to ward off insect pests, at least since the time of Pliny the Elder,” said Marcus C. Stensmyr, associate professor at Lund University and co-corresponding author. “But why Catnip is so potent on such a broad range of insect species has remained unknown.”
“What is particularly interesting is that, unlike wasabi or garlic compounds that also activate these receptors in humans, catnip appears to selectively activate the insect receptor,” Gallio said. “This explains why humans are indifferent to it, and provides a serious advantage for its use as a repellent.”
Why cats are so attracted to catnip is an entirely different story and one that is not entirely understood. Research indicates this may be due to an unusual interaction between one of catnip’s active ingredients and a molecular component present in the reward system of the cat brain.
“Mosquitos, in particular those that act as vector for disease, are becoming a bigger problem as climate change creates attractive conditions for them farther north and south of the equator,” Stensmyr said. “Plant-derived compounds represent a new emerging approach to developing insect repellents, as plants have long known how to protect themselves from insect pests.”
Complete article about a new insect repellent – https://www.sciencedaily.com