Friday, March 5, 2021
Common herbs that raise your favorite cat may hold the key to a mosquito-free summer in your backyard.
Researchers report that catnip is as effective as synthetic repellents, including DEET, and why this common member of the mint family actively drives bugs into buggies.
Nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip, activates ancient pain receptors found in a variety of animals, including flatworms, bees, and humans, and was an associate professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. One Marco Galio researcher said.
“We believe that catnip has a great deal of aversion to so many insect species because it activates this wide range of stimulant receptors,” he said in a college news release. Said.
Members of Galio’s lab and others have previously shown that humans, insects, and many other animals have versions of their receptors that sense stimulants.
“What’s particularly interesting is that unlike wasabi and garlic compounds, which also activate these human receptors, catnip appears to selectively activate insect receptors,” Galio said. I will. “This explains why humans are indifferent to it and offers significant benefits for its use as a repellent.”
In this study, his lab collaborated with researchers at Lund University in Sweden. They mainly focus on mosquitoes and other insects that can infect humans.
Their tests included providing mosquitoes with a bloody diet in a dish covered with nylon socks soaked in catnip. Experiments involving wind tunnels, and volunteers putting their hands in cages with live mosquitoes, with or without protection against catnip oil friction.
“Mosquitoes, especially those that act as vectors of disease, create attractive conditions for climate change further north and south of the equator,” said Marcus Stensmar, an associate professor at Lund University and co-author of the study. , Is becoming a bigger problem. ” “Because plants have long known how to protect themselves from pests, plant-derived compounds represent a new new approach to developing insect repellents.”
Catnip is often added to cat toys and treats due to its euphoric and hallucinogenic effects on cats.
According to Galio, plant-derived repellents are often readily available and inexpensive, so their use may be beneficial to developing countries where mosquito-borne diseases are a major problem. ..
Researchers said understanding why catnip compounds repel insects could lead to the development of next-generation repellents that selectively target mosquito stimulant receptors.
The study was published in the journal on March 4th. Current biology..
For more information
The World Health Organization details vector-borne infections.
Source: Northwestern University, News Release, March 4, 2021
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