Q. What is Silver vine?

A. Silver vine is a climbing vine plant that grows in Japan and China. It frequently is infested with midges (tiny insects) the insects saliva causes the plant to produce a form of growth hormone. Over time, this excretion becomes hard like a rock and is known as “gall fruit” (which is distinguished from the bearing fruit the plant uses to reproduce). The insects then come back and bore a hole in the gall where the insect lays eggs and the larva will grow. However, these galls are harvested before the insects lay the eggs.

Q. What is it used for?

A. Silver vine has long been known to elicit euphoric responses in cats.It is the most popular cat treat in Asia. The reaction to silver vine is similar to the catnip response, but appears to be more intense. Silver vine is a great alternative to catnip, and many cats which do not react to catnip will respond positively to silver vine powder made from dried fruit galls. Typical behaviors include rolling, chin and cheek rubbing, drooling, and licking. The effect usually lasts between five and 30 minutes, and cats will usually visit silver vine again after about 20–30 minutes. Studies have shown that, when compared side by side, cats prefer the silver vine over normal catnip. This is thought to be because silver vine has two active ingredients that are attractive to cats, versus catnip, which only has one active compound.

Q. How do I use it as a trapping lure?

A. Silver vine is ground into a powder form to release the chemicals, which cause the attraction and euphoric response in cats. You can use the pure powder (it only takes a gram or less to get a reaction from cats) in a tea bag (empty tea bags are sold at health food stores or online). The long draw strings on the tea bags are handy to tie the bag precisely where you want it (shoulder height on a cat and where the cat will have to step on the trap to reach it). Silver vine is not a call lure, but rather is a finishing lure used to keep the cat at your set once the cat has located it.

 You can also mix silver vine to obtain a lure that will pour. Be careful, though, because most alcohol-based products will neutralize the chemicals in silver vine that cause the euphoric reaction in cats. We suggest you avoid ingredients like glycol, glycerin, vodka, wine, etc. Instead, substitute olive oil or white petroleum jelly. Use just enough of these materials to hold the silver vine together as a smear or rub lure. The odor of silver vine is very mild so it is important that you not dilute it or cover it up by mixing too little silver vine with liquid material. You might want to also consider adding some pure ground beaver castor (not castor that has been ground or tinctured with glycol or glycerin) to “push” or help broadcast the silver vine odor.

Q. How much do I use?

A. Tests with domestic and bobcats demonstrated that a gram or less was sufficient to get an intense reaction from cats. Silver vine is not an odor that you need worry about overdoing or making too strong.

Q. How long will silver vine last?

A. The gall fruit is extremely hard – like a rock. As a result, it does not degrade or dissipate over time. The chemicals in the gall fruit are locked in that hard substance. As a result, silver vine has an extremely long life span. Testing also shows that silver vine is weather proof and still elicits a response after rain or heavy dew.