Why Catnip Can Repel Mosquitoes
A long time ago, people have discovered that catnip has excitatory and hallucinogenic effects on cats. Because it is rich in aromatic essential oils, catnip will emit a strong and complex scent with only a slight touch. Whenever a cat smells this scent, it may become very excited and roll around; Whenever a cat smells this scent, it may become very excited and roll around; Or happily eat a few bites of catnip; others will squint and become extremely intoxicated.
Therefore, catnip is often used as an additive for cat toys and pet food.
For a long time, catnip is also known for its powerful repellent effect on insects (especially mosquitoes). Its active ingredient, Nepetalactone, has been used to repel harmful insects since at least the 1st century AD, but the reason why it has a repellent effect on such a wide range of insect species is still unknown.
The traditional method of killing mosquitoes is to use insecticides, but these methods can also cause collateral damage to other insect species. Modern mosquito repellent formulations (DEET) target the olfactory and taste receptors of mosquitoes, making them unable to recognize chemical signals from the "human blood meal".
In a recent new study, a research team from Northwestern University in the United States and Lund University in Sweden discovered that catnip and its active ingredient nepetalactone activate the transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) ion channel. This is an ancient pain receptor that exists in many animals such as humans, flatworms and fruit flies. Many insect species are disgusted with catnip because it activates this widely distributed stimulatory receptor.
In previous studies, the team and other researchers have demonstrated that TRPA1 ion channels exist in humans, insects, and many other animal species. This protein is a well-known "mustard receptor" that can sense environmental stimuli such as pain and itching.
The study's co-corresponding author Marco Gallio, assistant professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University, said: "It is particularly interesting that unlike mustard or garlic compounds that also activate these receptors in the human body, catnip seems to selectively activate insect TRPA1. This explains why it has no effect on humans, which also provides an important advantage for its use as a mosquito repellent."
As for why cats are attracted to catnip is another matter, the mechanism is still not fully understood. Studies have shown that this may be due to an unusual interaction between the active ingredient of catnip and a molecule in the cat's brain reward system.
Researchers have also conducted studies on various insects to better understand how catnip and its active ingredients drive away a variety of insects without irritating humans.
The researchers believe that the mechanism they have discovered will provide a proof of concept for the development of next generation mosquito repellents that can be designed to target more powerful and selective molecules by understanding the chemistry of pseudoceronidone and how it interacts with the receptor TRPA1.
In this process, the detection of TRPA1 is also an essential process. At present, Wuxi Donglin Sci & Tech Development Co.,Ltd. has developed a variety of Elisa products of TRPA1. If you want to know more information about TRPA1 Elisa kits, you can directly visit the website: