Beans, beans, the magical fruit

Turns out that beans, more specifically, kidney bean leaves, really are magical. Well, unless you’re a bedbug, then they’re your worst enemy.

The kidney bean leaves used to trap bedbugs hundreds of years ago in southeastern Europe may offer a model for a non-toxic, modern-day treatment, say U.S. researchers.

“Plants exhibit extraordinary abilities to entrap insects,” the study’s lead author, Catherine Loudon, an entomologist at the University of California, Irvine, said in a university news release. “Modern scientific techniques let us fabricate materials at a microscopic level, with the potential to ‘not let the bedbugs bite’ without pesticides.”

So, how does it work, exactly? If you’re anything like me, you were scratching your head wondering how a leaf could entrap a bedbug. (Part of that could be Pavlovian too. Any time I read about bedbugs, I immediately start itching.)

Basically, microscopic hairs on kidney bean leaves stab the insects, effectively trapping them. Within seconds of stepping on a leaf, bedbugs become trapped. Microscopic hooked hairs on the leaves, known as trichomes, stab the bugs’ legs and immobilize them, the researchers explained.

Right now, the only methods used to combat bedbug infestations include freezing, extreme heating, vacuuming and pesticides. It’d be great to add something like this to the list!

So far the researchers have modeled materials after the bean leaves in an attempt to reproduce their immobilizing effect. Unfortunately, the synthetic surfaces have slowed the bugs down, but have yet to stop them in their tracks.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this and if our mattresses will start having some sort of synthetic trichomes on them!

Until next time…
Sweet dreams!
~KM

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