Catnip is known to have a euphoric or exciting effect on cats. But a Japanese study published on June 14 reveals that this type of plant also helps cats protect themselves… from mosquitoes. This could give humans a new weapon against the bites of these insects. Explanations.
When you see them, you think they’re drugged. In the presence of catnip (western catnip or silver vine also called matatabi, from Asia), our tomcat starts to lick or eat the leaves, or downright roll on the plant, as if prey to an intense, euphoric, exciting pleasure. So much so that cat owners buy one or the other of these catnips to give them a little “happiness”.
A drug for kitties, catnip, really? Perhaps, since a molecule already studied, nepetalactol, “appears to act like a light drug and seems to involve the opioid system regulating the circuit of the reward in felines”.
But not only. A Japanese study published on June 14, 2022 confirms and completes an earlier study carried out in January 2021: if cats roll in catnip and lick or eat their leaves, it is also to protect themselves against… mosquitoes. Indeed, nepetalactol protects catnip from microbial infections and insects, and in particular, for felines, mosquitoes. For cats, rubbing against these herbs is enough to transfer this molecule to their fur and protect them.
As for licking or eating the leaves of catnip or silver vine, the latest study has proven that cats do not swallow these plants or very little, but that chewing these leaves increases the diffusion of nepetalactol and promotes the anti-mosquito action. .
Scientists are now thinking of using this molecule as a new kind of mosquito repellent for humans, but also against a wide range of insects, in particular to protect crops. Moreover, nepetalactol sprays are being studied, in particular to preserve these cultures.
It remains to be seen whether for humans, the euphoric effect will work as it does for tomcats, but if the mosquito stays away, that will be enough, in summer, to keep us happy. Without having to roll around in catnip…
Catnip and catnip, the difference
Catnip is different from catnip.
Catnip is the name given in France to young shoots of grasses or tigernuts and which are found in commerce, we are told. Doctissimo. Commercially, these are most often young shoots of grasses such as wheat, oats, rye or barley. This catnip allows your pet to satisfy its need for plants. It has digestive and purgative properties, and can be very useful for cats that live in apartments.