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  • Writer's pictureCindy DeVore

A Natural Alternative To DEET

DEET, the most common ingredient in insect repellents, has long raised concerns about neurotoxicity in humans. According to Science Daily, this very common and effective ingredient not only inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetycholinesterase, in insects, but also in mammals.

The good news is that there are natural and effective alternatives! Years ago, when a friend asked if I could produce a natural mosquito repellent for her children, my research began.

Most folks have heard that citronella is an effective repellent for mosquitos and other flying insects. Rosemary and peppermint come in a close second in creating an herbal force field. But who’d have thought that a key ingredient in catnip, Nepetalactone, has been found to be ten times more effective in repelling mosquitos than DEET itself?

When I read about catnip as a natural alternative, I did what any other homesteader would do… I took the one-pound bag I bought for my cat and dropped it into a bucket of oil to let it steep like tea for two weeks. I checked it every couple of days, stirring and churning it to get the full effect of whatever magic it might bring to my twilight hours of gardening when mosquitos were most prevalent.

When I thought it was ready, I poured the mixture through a strainer to remove the catnip. I then slathered myself with the infused oil and went outside just around sundown. As a fair-skinned person, I’m generally a magnet for mosquitos. They smell me coming, so to speak! But to my amazement that evening, they wouldn’t come near me. Even when I held my arm up and invited them to land. Nope. Nothing. I knew then that I truly was on to something good.

In the weeks that followed, I shipped the oil to friends and family around the country and asked them to try it out. The results were nothing short of amazing. Everyone was astounded at how effective this simple infused oil worked to repel not only mosquitos, but gnats, biting flies and no-see-ems, as well. It seems that flying insects just don’t care for catnip. Or more precisely, Nepetalactone, its key ingredient.

Fast forward ten years and thousands of bottles sold, you’ll find Valley Green Naturals’ catnip-infused Bugger Off is still a top-seller in our line of products. Nowadays, I add my favorite repelling essentials of rosemary, citronella and peppermint to give our catnip tincture all the extra “umph” it needs to create a lasting herbal force field when venturing outside.

If you’d like to read more about catnip and Nepetalactone being more effective than DEET, check out this release issued by Iowa State University’s agricultural department. And we hope you’ll join the folks at Valley Green in celebrating our all-natural Bugger Off’s 10th year in production!

Until next time, stay safe and be well.



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