What Pests Catnip Plant Repel How To Use It As A Repellent

What Pests Catnip Plant Repel & How To Use It As A Repellent

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial plant that resembles a typical mint plant. It originates from the plant family Lamiaceae, giving it a distinct appearance. Aromatic with ethereal oils with usually four-sided stems are the often characteristics of these herbs.

The plant possesses a chemical known as nepetalactone. Cat use is not the sole function of this plant. Additionally, a herbal tea treatment for insomnia and some digestive problems is some of the plant’s other use.

image of catnip plant
Image of Catnip by Liz West

Cats go crazy over catnip due to the chemical nepetalactone. This chemical is released when the plant leaves are crushed. In particular, the plant possesses a distinctive smell because of this compound.

Catnip extract is a good insect repellent aside from its effect on cat attraction and stimulation. This article lists what pests the catnip plant can repel and how are you going to use it as a repellent.

Pests Catnip Repel

1. Mosquitoes

Multiple studies show that extracted catnip essential oil is one of the most effective natural mosquito repellents. This is true especially to the mosquito species Aedes aegypti. This specific species is known to transmit vector-borne diseases like yellow fever, dengue, and Zika virus.

image of mosquito during a blood meal
Image of Aedes aegypti mosquito by James Gathany

For instance, the substance in the plant is ten times better than DEET or diethyltoluamide. DEET is the common ingredient active in most insect repellents such as Repel and Off!.

Although some really recommend products with DEET as a mosquito repellent, catnip essential oil would already suffice. The oil can have the same level of potency as the product with DEET formulation. You can experience better walks in the woods by using this natural insect repellent.

catnip essential oils in an amber bottle

2. Stable Flies

These pests are considered as a health risk to horses in a stable and cattle in a barn. Stable flies suck the animal’s blood which leads to anemia.

Moreover, they transmit diseases around and not only damage one animal but also the whole farm. When this pest situation is not controlled, this results in serious profit and economic loss in the industry.

stable flies having a meal in a horse legs
Stable flies image from newyorkupstate.com

In order to use the plant’s oil as a repellent against stable flies, farms usually use wax-based products such as catnip pellets. The pellets are infused with the plant’s oil and are often situated inside feedlots.

Consequently, nepetalactone is a volatile compound. It easily disperses on air. Use it only to aid in driving away stable flies. It is better to kill these pests with other formulated insecticides rather than using catnip pellets as a sole source of insect repellent.

3. Termites

Catnip plants have been found around the foundations and timber posts of old European homes and barns. A recent study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that termites less likely make tunnels under where a catnip plant is.

termites on wood
Photo of Termites from CTPEST

Growing catnip near the areas you want to protect against termite infestation might help you keep these pests from damaging your wood. The concentrated oil from catnip not only prevents these pests, but it can also kill them.

4. Cockroaches

Catnip can help you drive away cockroaches especially within your home. These pests, aside from their ugly and creepy appearance, can potentially bring diseases like salmonella and polio.

cockroach on an apple
Cockroach on an apple image by Neil Turner

To demonstrate, researchers from Iowa State University say that nepetalactone repels male cockroaches. The chemical repels almost 100 times better than the commercial compound DEET. The study gives hope for a non-toxic and natural repellent against roaches.

5. Ticks

These are possible carriers of dangerous diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The intense smell of catnip is repulsive for ticks.

catnip essential oil by plan therapy brand

Also, these insects cannot tolerate the smell of catnip. You can either plant one around your area which has ticks in them or wipes some concentrated catnip oil on your skin to avoid tick bites during your trip in the woods.

How to Use Catnip as Repellent

Before trying out any of these procedures, remember that being volatile is one of the disadvantages of nepetalactone found in catnips. This means these mixtures will not last as long compared to commercial insect repellents.

Ready storage containers that have airtight lids to lengthen the effectiveness of your catnip essence mix. Do not leave the mixture open for too long to prevent fast evaporation.

1. Quickest Method

This will only require a catnip plant near you. Use this if you are going to go around an area filled with ticks and mosquitoes and you are in need of a quick and natural insect repellent.

black and white cat sniffing catnip
Cat and catnip photo by Sunchild57

Take a certain amount of catnip leaves and crush using your hands. Be careful not to crush it too much because it can leave a green stain. Tuck the crushed leaves in your collar, in your hat, and put some in your shoes. You can put some inside your pants and clothes to protect you from insects and insect bites.

2. Oil-based Infusion

Gather and finely cut catnip leaves. Next, lay them on a shallow oven tray and cover with your choice of oil. Afterward, heat it in the oven slowly for 1 to 3 hours in temperature ranging from 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (65-93 degrees Celsius).

eucalyptus essential oil product by gya labs

Let the oil cool, strain out the leaves, and store the oil in an airtight container then refrigerate. You can use this as a topical oil.

3. Catnip Alcohol Spray

You need a pure catnip essential oil to do this. Mix one cup of unscented isopropyl alcohol and one cup distilled water. Then, add one teaspoon of the catnip essential oil.

Mix the solution thoroughly and put in a spray bottle or any container that has a covering. Make sure to choose one that has an airtight lid to prevent the catnip essence from evaporating quickly. 

4. Extracted Oil Mix

If you have your own catnip plant at home, do this method instead. Prepare a certain amount of catnip leaves to be pressed. The more leaves, the better.

grinding green mix in a nutriblender
Photo by Marco Verch

Next, grind the leaves in a blender or food processor and place the pulp into a bowl. Pour boiling water, mix and then press the leaves thoroughly. Do this for at least 5 minutes and make sure to press as much extract as you can.

Strain the leaves out and keep the extract refrigerated while stored in a sealed container. To add aroma to your extract, you can add other repellent oils such as citronella and eucalyptus. Wipe the mixture onto your skin and particularly in exposed areas to repel insects..

5. Catnip Extract Tincture

By also using macerated catnip leaves, you can make a catnip tincture. After blending the leaves, pour unscented alcohol or 100-proof vodka and blend again.

Then, strain using a clean cloth to remove the solids out of the mixture. Pour in a container with a tight lid. Let it infuse for 5 days to 1 week while shaking the container daily. Let it stand for the last 2 days until the remaining solids get precipitated from the solution. Remove this and you will be left with a pure catnip extract tincture. You can put this in a spray bottle and use as needed.


There is a lot of evidence that proves catnip is an effective and potent insect repellent. When using this plant to deter insects and pests, you will need to use it more frequently for a lasting effect. Even though it is definitely not as long-lasting as the commercially available insect repellents, it has the potential to be manufactured and improved.

Catnip as a mosquito repellent