Back in the olden days, our grandparents rid their homes of bed bugs…by spraying massive doses of potentially cancer-causing chemicals.
Today, because we prefer not to die from cancer, we rely on ‘natural’ bed bug sprays, electronic gizmos and either super-heating or freezing our houses to eliminate infestations of bed bugs. Unfortunately, these methods cost a fair amount of money and don’t work near as well as the olde-fashioned (potentially carcinogenic) sprays of yesteryear.
Luckily for us, science has been working on the bedbug problem and may have come up with a solution…derived from the microscopic hairs on kidney bean leaves.
This folk remedy involved strewing kidney bean leaves on the floor next to beds. The leaves ensnared the blood-seeking parasites during the night. In the morning, the bug-encrusted greenery is removed and burned to exterminate the insects.
Inspired by this traditional Balkan bedbug remedy and the fact that most people don’t have a field of kidney bean plants nearby, our little group of scientists are now developing materials that mimic the geometry of the leaves.
“Unfortunately, at the current time, the synthetic surfaces snag the bedbugs temporarily but do not yet stop them as effectively as real leaves, suggesting that crucial mechanics of the trichomes still need to be determined.Â Theoretically, bean leaves could be used for pest control, but they dry out and don’t last very long. They also can’t easily be applied to locations other than a floor. Synthetic materials could provide a nontoxic alternative.
“Plants exhibit extraordinary abilities to entrap insects,” said Loudon, lead author of the paper. “Modern scientific techniques let us fabricate materials at a microscopic level, with the potential to ‘not let the bedbugs bite’ without pesticides.”
“Nature is a hard act to follow, but the benefits could be enormous,” Potter said. “Imagine if every bedbug inadvertently brought into a dwelling was captured before it had a chance to bite and multiply.”
You would not believe how itchy I felt while writing this article. :(