Watch as the essential oil of catnip used in our Five Barn Farm Tick and Insect Repellent frustrates this tick from leaving the safety of the untreated blue tape.
The composition of this repellent has been developed at Five Barn Farm in upstate New York. The formula is based on the essential oil of a plant that grows widely as a weed, Nepeta cataria (catnip) dispersed in olive oil. For now we are both purchasing the oil, which has been analyzed by gas chromatography in our barn-laboratory on the farm, and also obtaining the oil by extraction using steam from plant harvested on the farm here. The details of this plant's capacity to repel ticks has been determined in collaboration with vector ecologists Dr. Thomas Daniels and Dr. Richard Falco of the Calder Center of Fordham University and Professor James Ciaccio of the Fordham University Chemistry Department. The engineer at the farm is Richard Klebes. Please see the video above, which features a starved tick desperate to get onto a blood source (Professor Green's arm which has catnip oil on it ... He is Emeritus Professor of New York University Tandon School of Engineering)
The effect of catnip essential oil on insects is beyond question. Our experience here on the farm, and other peoples' elsewhere, demonstrates repellent activity against every pest encountered, including the flies that plague the eyes of cows and horses.
This property of catnip essential oil on insects was documented as early as 1964, in a "Science" paper by Thomas Eisner of Cornell University, who wrote: “Surely a mint plant derives no benefit from an ability to stimulate cats.” This makes sense. Plants, over hundreds of millions of years, have evolved to produced chemicals, called secondary metabolites, to repel nectar feeding arthropods. It is reasonable for us, who came along much later, to use these chemicals, these essential oils, to repel arthropods feeding on our "nectar," that is, blood.
On Five Barn Farm, we are also growing and extracting the essential oil of Tagetes minuta L (Mexican marigold), which we had earlier shown to yield an essential oil that kills the larvae of the mosquito that carries various maladies including the Zika virus.
Here is a general article about the work on marigolds and also the reference to the scientific basis of this finding.
Reference: The Larvicidal Activity of Tagetes Minuta L. Toward Aedes Aegypti (L); M.M. Green, J.M. Singer, D.J. Sutherland and C.R. Hibben, Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 7 (2), 282 (1991)
There has been no testing for use on very small children or pregnant women.
A small amount will work as a repellent and reduces the possibility of skin sensitization, common to many essential oils.
Your cat will likely love a tiny amount put on any object. Cats may be attracted, but ticks and insects will certainly be repelled.