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#48590 - 02/25/02 02:27 PM GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 35
Gaelen Offline
Gaelen  Offline
As I'm making my list of what to pack for our trip, I just wanted to take a second to HIGHLY recommend REI's Jungle Juice bug repellent for anyone going into the jungle in Belize. I'm not one to get all excited about products, but this worked *miracles* for us in Costa Rica. We were far in the jungle and didn't get bit once in 15 days. If you're wary of chemicals, I have to warn you this stuff is 95% DEET -- but I'm sure that's why it worked so much better than anything else. Just passing along my positive experience! And no I don't work for REI [Linked Image]


#48591 - 02/25/02 03:24 PM Re: GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,054
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Lan Sluder/Belize First  Offline
DEET definitely does work, and I guess in some situations the more DEET the better, though I personally think anything above 30% is overkill and could do more harm than good.

Even 30% DEET is powerful stuff. It can attack certain kinds of plastics and other materials, sorta melting them. Once in Belize at Cerros ruins we were attacked by flocks of mosquitoes, some of which got in our car. I sprayed the mozzies with 30% DEET. Got rid of them, but it also disfigured the plastic on the dash (amazing how much plastic there is in a car these days) and other parts of the interior of the rental car.

--Lan Sluder

Lan Sluder/Belize First
#48592 - 02/25/02 03:39 PM Re: GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 475
ChrisW Offline
ChrisW  Offline
I read a study recently that catnip oil was more effective than DEET as an insect repellant (and of course much safer). I believe there are plans to make a bug repellant based on catnip, but I have not seen it in the stores yet. If anybody is brave and wants to give it a try, I would be curious if it really works. Just watch out for stray cats who will want to use you as a scratching post.

We always used the 95% DEET stuff when fishing in Canada. Nasty stuff, but I wouldn't go into heavily mosquito infested areas without it. Just don't use it on young children. Their developing nervous systems are especially vulnerable to its toxic effects and they are more likely to end up with some of it in their mouths or eyes.

[This message has been edited by ChrisW (edited 02-25-2002).]

[This message has been edited by ChrisW (edited 02-25-2002).]

#48593 - 02/25/02 05:43 PM Re: GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 1,419

There will be a full on site study done on SP in about three weeks re the catnip oil. It has been researched for the past year by a member of this board, and the final preparations and formula experiments have been determined. There are only a handful of sources for "pure" catnip oil, and one must sign a waiver that the intention is not for "human" application. Since most of that adventuresome board member's traveling companions have proven over time to be "sub-human" that should not prove to be a problem. According to recent experiments it's "all in the ratio", and he ain't talkin'.

Bombs away.


#48594 - 02/25/02 09:16 PM Re: GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 713
susangg Offline
susangg  Offline
I'm willing to be a guinea pig in the catnip oil test....I am usually surrounded by cats anyway (have 5 at home) and they find me wherever I go so that part of it is no big deal...

Where do I get the stuff?

Actually, its not unreasonable that this stuff might repel bugs. Anything that attracts one species of creature could easily repel another species.

Catnip, by the way, does not have the same pleasant effect on all cats. Midnight, my black Himalayan, went absolutely nuts when I bought a catnip toy for the cats...she growled, hissed and acted completely loony so I don't buy them catnip toys any more.

Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email:
#48595 - 02/25/02 09:30 PM Re: GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 713
susangg Offline
susangg  Offline
HERE'S THE DATA SOURCE ON THE CATNIP OIL STUDY. Looks good to me! I plan to start growing this stuff! And the oil is probably available in health food stores too if you don't want to or can't grow your own....

Source: American Chemical Society (

Date: Posted 8/28/2001

Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET

CHICAGO, August 27 — Researchers report that nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its characteristic odor, is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET — the compound used in most commercial insect repellents.
The finding was reported today at the 222nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, by the same Iowa State University research group that two years ago discovered that catnip also repels cockroaches.

Entomologist Chris Peterson, Ph.D., with Joel Coats, Ph.D., chair of the university’s entomology department, led the effort to test catnip’s ability to repel mosquitoes. Peterson, a former post-doctoral research associate at the school, is now with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Wood Products Insects Research Unit, in Starkville, Miss.

While they used so-called yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) — one of several species of mosquitoes found in the United States — Peterson says catnip should work against all types of mosquitoes.

Aedes aegypti, which can carry the yellow fever virus from one host to another, is found in most parts of the United States. Yellow fever itself, however, only occurs in Africa and South America, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Vaccines and mosquito control programs have essentially wiped out the disease in the United States, although there have been isolated reports of unvaccinated travelers returning with the disease. The last reported outbreak in this country was in 1905.

Peterson put groups of 20 mosquitoes in a two-foot glass tube, half of which was treated with nepetalactone. After 10 minutes, only an average of 20 percent — about four mosquitoes — remained on the side of the tube treated with a high dose (1.0 percent) of the oil. In the low-dose test (0.1 percent) with nepetalactone, an average of 25 percent — five mosquitoes — stayed on the treated side. The same tests with DEET (diethyl-m-toluamide) resulted in approximately 40 percent to 45 percent — eight-nine mosquitoes — remaining on the treated side.

In the laboratory, repellency is measured on a scale ranging from +100 percent, considered highly repellent, to –100 percent, considered a strong attractant. A compound with a +100 percent repellency rating would repel all mosquitoes, while –100 percent would attract them all. A rating of zero means half of the insects would stay on the treated side and half on the untreated side. In Peterson’s tests, catnip ranged from +49 percent to +59 percent at high doses, and +39 percent to +53 percent at low doses. By comparison, at the same doses, DEET’s repellency was only about +10 percent in this bioassay, he notes.

Peterson says nepetalactone is about 10 times more effective than DEET because it takes about one-tenth as much nepetalactone as DEET to have the same effect. Most commercial insect repellents contain about 5 percent to 25 percent DEET. Presumably, much less catnip oil would be needed in a formulation to have the same level of repellency as a DEET-based repellent.

Why catnip repels mosquitoes is still a mystery, says Peterson. “It might simply be acting as an irritant or they don’t like the smell. But nobody really knows why insect repellents work.”

No animal or human tests are yet scheduled for nepetalactone, although Peterson is hopeful that will take place in the future.

If subsequent testing shows nepetalactone is safe for people, Peterson thinks it would not be too difficult to commercialize it as an insect repellent. Extracting nepetalactone oil from catnip is fairly easily, he says. “Any high school science lab would have the equipment to distill this, and on the industrial scale it’s quite easy.”

Catnip is a perennial herb belonging to the mint family and grows wild in most parts of the United States, although it also is cultivated for commercial use. Catnip is native to Europe and was introduced to this country in the late 18th century. It is primarily known for the stimulating effect it has on cats, although some people use the leaves in tea, as a meat tenderizer and even as a folk treatment for fevers, colds, cramps and migraines.

A patent application for the use of catnip compounds as insect repellents was submitted last year by the Iowa State University Research Foundation. Funding for the research was from the Iowa Agriculture Experiment Station.

Chris Peterson, Ph.D., is a former post-doctoral research associate at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, and is now a Research Entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Wood Products Insect Research Service, in Starkville, Miss.

Joel R. Coats, Ph.D., is professor of entomology and toxicology and Chair of the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by American Chemical Society for journalists and other members of the public. If you wish to quote from any part of this story, please credit American Chemical Society as the original source. You may also wish to include the following link in any citation:

Copyright © 1995-2002 ScienceDaily Magazine | Email:

Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email:
#48596 - 02/25/02 10:00 PM Re: GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: Sep 2000
Posts: 713
susangg Offline
susangg  Offline
Here's an online source for buying catnip oil all ready to mix with whatever to make your own anti bug juice:


Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email:
#48597 - 02/26/02 11:25 AM Re: GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 475
ChrisW Offline
ChrisW  Offline
I stumbled across that same link yesterday. The oil sure is expensive. I've grown catnip a few times and it grows like a weed. I can't imagine why it cost so much unless it takes a huge amount of the stuff to extract a small amount of oil.

Also, I saw a link yesterday (sorry I don't remember it) that had directions for a bug repellant cocktail. It involved soaking catnip and some other herbs in a solution of Cider vinegar. You then rub or spray on the vinegar. Sound like some stinky stuff to me.

Keep us posted on the experiment....

[This message has been edited by ChrisW (edited 02-26-2002).]

#48598 - 02/26/02 11:53 AM Re: GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 5,255
sweetjane Offline
sweetjane  Offline
you can always use the jungle juice & dilute it, that's what folks were doing when i was there. and we went the week of mosquito INVASION. i mean, we were RUNNING away from them, they would chase us down. when frank sprayed, they bit his feet. i would be interseted to see if the catnip oil works.

anyway, can dilute it with something. i hear baby oil is great for no-see-ums, tho i never tried it. deep woods off worked ok for us. don't forget the benedryl cream, just in case!

#48599 - 02/26/02 11:54 AM Re: GREAT bug repellent recommendation  
Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 197
Mike and Daphne Ryan Offline
Mike and Daphne Ryan  Offline
susangg --

Thanks very much for the article. Daphne uses Skin-sosoft bug repellent. I like the original skin-so-soft bath oil mixed half and half with water. But neither of these repels the worst insect - bitting black or green head flies. Not a problem in AC, apparently, but sometimes when sailing. Any word on that? (I'll check the sites.) And is there a black or green head fly season in AC? Only been there in the winter so far.

Mike Ryan

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