Saturday, August 16, 2008

Catnip vs roaches

A little catnip a day can keep the roaches away. Two researchers from Iowa State University say the old folklore that catnip repels cockroaches is true. In August 1999 Chris Peterson and Joel Coats reported their findings at the national meeting ofthe American Chemical Society in New Orleans. They said "roaches are repelled by two forms of Nepetalactone, a chemical found in catnip plants". This might lead to greater use of catnip or the development of new natural insect repellants that could be sprayed along baseboards to keep cockroaches from coming out of the walls. "There are really no commercial cockroach repellants", Peterson said. "Most are insecticides designed to kill roaches. People don't seem to just want them to go away-they want them dead.

"Milk may have potential as a fungicide.A report in the October 16 1999 edition of New Scientist suggests that spraying diluted milk on cucumbers and courgettes (zucchini) may be effective in killing powdery mildew, caused by the mold Sphaerotheca fulinginea. This could be a significant benefit for organic farmers trying to meet the growing demand for chemical free vegetables.According to the report, milk's fungicidal powers were discovered by Wagner Bettiol of the environmental laboratory of Embrapa, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, in Jaguariuna, north of Sao Paulo.Bettiol, who was looking for cheap ways to control plant pests, observed that by-products from milk-processing factories killed powdery mildew on squash. So he decided to simply spray fresh milk on the plants to see if it had the same effect.To his surprise, he found that it did. In fact, spraying heavily infected plants twice a week with a mixture of one part cow's milk to nine parts water was at least as good at stopping mildew as the chemical fungicides fenarimol and benomyl, Bettiol discovered.Bettiol added that several organic growers in his region were able to control less severe outbreaks by spraying once a week with a 5% milk solution. In many cases, milk was both faster and more effective. After two to three weeks of spraying with milk, the area of leaves infected was in some cases only a sixth or less of the area affected on plants treated with chemical fungicide.Bettiol is not yet sure why milk works so well, but he speculates that it helps the plants in two ways. Milk is known to kill some microorganisms. It also contains potassium phosphate, which boosts the plant's immune system and so may help it inhibit the mildew's growth.


The above came from a group I belong to and didn't cite the source. It does include a bit about the researchers. Unfortunately I don't know where the source is to get permission to post it and will therefore gladly delete it if needed. I hope that isn't an issue though as roaches can transmit nasty bacteria and such so I"m hoping in the interest of public health that it's ok I have posted this. IF the source is found, I'd appreciate someone making a comment with the info so I can obtain permission (which I really do do!!).

On the home front, I now have catnip growing in a small flower garden spot outside the back door (both sides) and it's now going to stay for it's bug repelling potential. I hope it repels other than roaches (ants would be great). I'll also transplant some from out under my pasture fence to the outside of the kitchen where the gas line hole is (supposedly plugged) and I can sprinkle some (I have LOTS of catnip as I dry it and sell it too - hint hint) at the front door!

And, I now have a new use for souring milk! I wonder if whey does anything helpful like that? I hear it's supposed to be wonderful for tomato plant growth and raspberries!