Cockroaches typically do not present health risks to humans but their appearance is offensive to many and they can sometimes transmit diseases and present sanitary risks. Regardless of the reason, many homeowners choose to remove cockroaches and many wish to do so without the use of potentially toxic insecticides inside the home. Luckily, there are several non-chemical control methods for removing a cockroach infestation from the home, such as simply growing catnip.
Catnip (Nepata cataria) is a perennial herb and a close relative of mint. Nearly 80 percent of the flowering tops of catnip blooms is made up of nepatalactone, a chemical that has an almost narcotic effect on cats. Growing catnip to give to cats is likely the most well-known use for catnip plants but recent research by Chris Peterson and Joel Coats at Iowa State University suggests another important and convenient household use for catnip.
As Roach Repellent
Coates and Peterson's research indicates that nepatalactone is also a powerful insect repellent and that growing catnip around your home can effectively ward off cockroaches. Nepatalactone, when extracted from catnip plants, is up to 100 times more effective as a roach repellent than DEET, the chemical basis for many roach repellents and insecticides on the market today. A Virginia Tech. University fact sheet on catnip also notes that catnip contains other compounds that repel insects apart from nepatalactone, such as citronellal, geraniol, citral, carvacrol and pulegone.
Research into the effectiveness of catnip as a roach repellent is still in its early stages, at time of publication. Peterson and Coates boiled catnip leaves to extract the nepatalactone rather than studying if the plants in unadulterated form can repel roaches. Additionally, Peterson and Coates only studied nepatalactone effects on small, brown German cockroaches rather than the American cockroaches that invade so many American homes.
Importance of Repelling
As noted above, cockroaches rarely present health risks to humans but scientists believe that one possible cause for rising rates of childhood asthma in urban areas is an allergic reaction to cockroach excrement. There are many reasons why is it smart to remove a cockroach infestation from the home, but for those households with asthmatic children, cockroach removal is much more serious an issue. Consider growing catnip in conjunction with other natural and preventative cockroach repellent methods.