Cat Scratch Fever

The cat's out of the bag: Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is 10 times more effective for keeping mosquitoes at bay than DEET, the chemical compound used in most conventional bug repellents. Iowa State University entomologists first discovered that nepetalactone, the essential oil in the feline-friendly herb, sent cockroaches packing. In August, the same researchers revealed that the natural compound--distilled from catnip--makes mosquitoes buzz off in a big way, too. Most commercial insect sprays contain from 5 to 25 percent DEET, a registered pesticide that has been linked to adverse side effects ranging from mild skin rashes to seizures. Following the research announcement, some home gardeners reported that freshly crushed catnip leaves rubbed on the skin worked as well as conventional bug spray for warding off mosquitoes (although stray cats could become a problem).

PHOTO (COLOR): Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

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