Catnip and Termites

Catnip PhotoYou may be keeping a patch of catnip (Nepeta cataria) in the garden for a feline friend, but watching intoxicated hijinks may not be the only human use for this perennial herb. Catnip, or catmint, has shown promise in repelling termites too.

A 2003 study conducted by the USDA-Forest Service found that catnip oil was effective in repelling and even killing termites. The oil they used was a commercially available catnip essential oil preparation.

The oil was applied to the soil near structures made of wood and did keep termites away. The preparation used for this particular test was not a good match. It was expensive and broke down in the environment too quickly. (Forest service guidelines specify that a treatment must be effective for more than five years to be considered.) The study concluded that the use of catnip oil to control termites needed more testing.

The forest service and others are looking for more eco-friendly termite treatments to take the place of dangerous chemical preparations. In recent years, chemical treatments for wood, (like CCA, a liquid fungicide and insecticide containing arsenic and used to treat wood for the building trade), have come under fire for posing risks to humans and the environment.

Termites and You

If you suspect termite activity, you should have your property evaluated by a professional, but a few termite plants around your home, near an unhappy old tree, or along your wooden fence might not be a bad idea.

Another thing you might want to keep an eye on are commercial products using catnip as a termite-busting ingredient. One commercial application uses catnip oil as a termite repellent in paint. If you know of any others, please let me know.

If you want more information about the USDA test conducted by Research Entomologist, Chris Peterson and others, visit: Termites Repelled by Catnip Oil

Special Note: If you're an enterprising reader considering making your own catnip oil, essential oil is made through distillation, like alcohol. You know, like with great grandpa's still.

Stay tuned for my next post, which will give you tips on how to grow your own catnip. Aside from discouraging termites, you can harvest a batch in fall, dry it, and make catnip mice for all your friends with cats. It's an inexpensive gift, but it's always appreciated. Home dried catnip seems more potent than the commercial stuff too.


  1. Anonymous7:38:00 PM

    Catnip discourages mosquitos as well as enchanting cats.

  2. It is also an awesome tranquiliser for humans! Stressing? Insomnia? Nervousness? Have some catnip tea. I tried it a few times and found its effects to be superb.

  3. Great insight. Thanks.


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