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Catnip (Nepeta Cataria)
Also known as Catnep, catswort, catmint and ‘nep in a hedge’
Catnip leaves contain a compound called “iridodial” which is known to attract beneficial insects such as lacewings which eat aphids and mites and also to butterflies. Plant it among your susceptible plants to help reduce damage from these pests.
Catnip also has a long history of use as a medicinal herb. It can be used as a tea to aid sleep and relaxation, and to reduce stress.
Catnip is however probably best known for its behavioural effects on the cats, not only on domestic cats but also other species of wild cats. It is used as a recreational substance for pet cats’ enjoyment, and catnip and catnip-laced products designed for use with domesticated cats are available to consumers, however not all cats are affected by catnip. The common behaviours when cats sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip are rubbing on the plant, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it, and chewing it. Consuming much of the plant is followed by drooling, sleepiness, anxiety, leaping about and purring. Some will growl, meow, scratch, or bite the hand holding it. Some cats will also eat dried catnip, although over indulgence can cause them to become aggressive.