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Bean leaves may hold answer to killing bloodsucking bedbugs

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Tiny hairs on bean leaves act as microscopic spikes, which impale the loathed pest. Can scientists recreate the tiny barbs with synthetic materials?


Researchers are spending big dollars on finding ways to eradicate the blood-sucking, sleep-stealing bedbug, but nature may have found the key to driving away the pest long ago. The New York Times published a story today about how tiny hooked hairs that grow on the surface of bean leaves impale the legs of the dreaded pest and trap them. A group of American scientists are trying to create a bedbug defense based on the bean leaf.

The group's findings were published today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Bedbugs are the scourge of populations around the globe and the creatures have in recent decades become much more immune to poisons. Researchers want to find a safe, environmental friendly way to kill them. Apparently, Eastern European housewives got wise to the pest-control capabilities of the bean leaf decades ago and it was noted by a German entomologist in 1927, The Times reported.

Eastern European housewives got wise to the bean leaf decades ago

The idea sounded far fetched to some researchers. “You can think of lots of reasons why it wouldn’t work," said Catherine Loudon, one of the authors of the report, who is a biologist and expert on bedbug locomotion at the University of California, Irvine. "That’s why it’s so amazing.”

The plant could prove to be the blueprint for a new bedbug defense. The scientists are trying to create barbs out of synthetic materials with similar physical properties to the bean-leaf hairs, but so far results have been mixed. The group, however, told The Times that they believe they know what it needs to be done and have a patent pending.