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Catnip can be a natural bug spray

By: Carys Wee

Catnip is very well known, because when cats take a sniff of this plant it causes them to act aggressively and lose control. Scientists have discovered that a part of this reaction can make catnip stronger.

Catnip makes cats act differently because a chemical compound named nepetalactone is found in the plant. It enters cats’ nasal tissue and interferes with the sensory particles in the cat.

During the reaction, cats sometimes bite or chew on the plant. As cats chew on catnip, it helps the plant’s defenses grow stronger and repel pests that harm it. Scientists figured out that when cats bite catnip it releases and produces iridoids. Iridoids are a chemical plant defense that make it so that when pests chew on the plant it has a bad taste.

To perform the experiment, scientists started with two cats and two plates. One of the plates had silver-vine leaves on it, while the other had catnip. They placed the plates on a table and released the cats one at a time. Both of the cats went to catnip and started to roll around and play with it. This experiment showed that the cats are now coated with natural bug spray.

Catnip repels bugs and pests, so when the cats rolled around in the leaves, they picked up this natural bug repellent.


Catnip’s insect-repelling powers grow as Puss chews on it _ Science News Explores.pdf

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