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An Herbal Insect Repellant

Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on May 16, 2010

My Cat Mint Plants

Alarmingly, many people still use massive quantities of toxic chemicals to ward off bugs. Sometimes, maybe, chemicals do have their place – but on MY skin – or my children? I don’t think so. There are many differnt herbs that are easy to grow that can help you with this problem. Grab a basil leaf as you walk through the garden and rub it on [I particularly love the smell of lemon basil]. It doesn’t deter bees – they love it too, but will deter gnats, no-see-ums & mosquitos.

But by far one of the best unknowns you can try is the Catnip, or cat mint plant. It has many useful traits, including settling your stomach & a mild sleep aid [great for cranky kids!]. One of it’s best uses, however, is as a flying insect repellant – mainly mosquitos. The oil is the best part but takes some good time & work to accumulate. An easy, quick spray can be made by boiling two cups of water, turn off the heat and let the bubbles from the boil stop, then add about 2 oz of fresh leaves – or if you are counting them – about 20 leaves. Let leaves steep [never boil catmint as it loses its beneficial properties] as the water cools, strain the leaves out and poor into a clean, sterile spray bottle. You can also mix 1 oz of rubbing alcohol with a cup of solution. Use liberally and spray on exposed skin; be careful not to spray around the eye or mouth area, especially if you have added alcohol. The straight solution, sans additives, is generally not harmful if swallowed, but alway keep everything away from the eyes.

Oh, those leaves you strained out? They can be useful to place on the eyelids as a relaxant or on small scrapes and cuts, insect bites, etc to reduce itching and provide temporary relief.

Cat Mint plants are easy to grow and return year after year. If you don’t use them – you will actually have to cut them back and tame them. If you have cats, your own or a neighbors, it is best to plant them from seeds so that they can be firmly growing and not draw any felines. If you transplant them or buy them as seedlings, you may have a battle on your hands as the cats are truly drawn to this.

For love and opposite sex attraction, some say that drinking cat mint tea or rubbing a few sprigs on some of your hot spots [wrist, neck] could draw out that Leo that you have your eyes on. [I’ll let you decide if I am kidding here or not]


3 Responses to “An Herbal Insect Repellant”

  1. Nancy Rigg said

    Great recommendations, Rhonda! I wonder if these remedies would survive in the world of whitewater rafting and swiftwater rescue? Rescue personnel work in some pretty intense and wet environments. Any thoughts?

    • Range Officer Rhonda said

      Nancy, these light sprays will last maybe an hour if you are sweating, but they don’t have a prayer in a water scene. What you CAN do is make the oil or carry the fresh leaves and wipe with them – that stays on much longer. While making essential oils is easy, it’s time consuming. One thing I found when rafting; my guide pulled over to the bank and grab something like a creosote bush [not really sure] and had us rub the leaves to deter the gnats, biting flies. Then we burned the leaves & branches in our camp fire that night – very helpful.

  2. Mary said

    Great information, Rhonda. Thanks.

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