Bug repellent from catnip....

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Bug repellent from catnip....

So how are they then going to repell all the cats???

You would be the most popular person on the street if you start wearing it...


 http://www.sun-sentinel.com...

PORT CHARLOTTE -- Cassie Wagner hates the smell of bug repellent, almost as much as the mosquitoes themselves, but that's not why she invented her own. The 13-year-old middle school student just wanted to make her cat, Addy, a toy.


I wanted to put catnip in the toy because that's what cats like,'' Cassie said. ``My mom said no, so I started researching catnip.'' What she found was that the essential oil in catnip, an organic herb, was believed to repel insects.

Cassie didn't find any research backing up the claim and she never saw catnip bug spray on store shelves, so she decided to test the claim herself.

``It was over the summer and I didn't have much going on,'' she said. ``I was just fooling around.''

Two years and several trips to an entomology lab at the University of Florida later, Cassie's research is paying off. Not only has her work netted her thousands of dollars in scholarships from two regional science awards, but Cassie hopes it can help her obtain a patent for her idea and give people another way to keep mosquitoes away.

Cassie, who moved to Florida with her family from Georgia last year, began her catnip experiment about two years ago. She started out by boiling cupfuls of the herb in her mother's kitchen in order to extract the essential oil, called nepetalactone. When that didn't work so well,

Cassie started using her mother's Mr. Coffee _ without asking. ``She found out the next day,'' said Cassie, ``when she made coffee.'' Cassie, who is in the program for gifted students, tested the herb's repellency by putting a small amount onto a cotton ball and seeing how mosquitoes reacted to it.

Her research became much more sophisticated after she met a doctoral student at the University of Florida, Pete Coon, who invited her up to test the brew in the university's research lab.

The lab's facilities have attracted many corporations seeking to test their own repellents, including Mosquito Magnet, Skin So Soft and Deep Woods Off! ``I thought he was going to show me a lot of the cool equipment,'' Cassie said.

``I didn't think I'd get to do anything.'' Coon not only gave Cassie advice on her experiment but a batch of mosquito eggs. To truly see the effect of her spray, which she calls BUGNIP, she had to use mosquitoes she had bred herself. So, in her parent's garage, Cassie reared female mosquitoes -- they are the only ones that bite -- and kept a detailed log on her research.

On Cassie's second trip to Gainesville, she used a machine that measures body responses of various insects, nicknamed ``Medusa.''

Coon said it sometimes takes several hours to teach someone how to set up the machine, but Cassie picked it up in an hour.

`I don't want to put down 12- and 13-year-olds, but there was just something about her,'' said Coon, who teaches entomology at UF. `I just kind of stepped back. I was just amazed at her natural abilities.''

Cassie's research showed that catnip drives away mosquitoes nearly as well or better than commercial products, with a repellency rate of 89.25 percent. ``It wouldn't surprise me if you see BUGNIP on the market one day,'' Coon said.

Although Cassie didn't know of it until after she began experimenting with catnip, two researchers from Iowa State University have studied the effect of catnip on mosquitoes.

Chris Peterson, now with the U.S. Forest Service, and Joel Coats found that the essential oil in the herb is about 10 times more effective than DEET. In 2003, about a year after Cassie began her research, the researchers received a patent, Peterson said. However, Cassie's BUGNIP does not contain the same ingredients as the Iowa researchers, so a patent is still within reach.

It is expensive, though. Already the Wagners have paid a $375 application fee, but the big bill would come down the road if they tried to obtain approval from the Federal Drug Administration. That cost is estimated between $40,000 and $60,000.

In the meantime, the Wagners are the only ones using the BUGNIP. So far, the family prefers the organic spray, which smells like tea, to anything they could find on store shelves. Said Cassie's mother, Katie, ``It's the only thing I use.''
By netchicken: posted on 30-3-2004








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