Bed bugs are an epidemic in the United States and around the world, and their infestations cost people money as well as endanger their physical and mental health. They also are incredibly resilient and adapt quickly to pesticides, making them one of the research and pest control communities top priorities in regards to finding ways to successfully and completely eliminate these bloodsucking pests. However, while researchers are spending tons of money in their efforts, they may be overlooking one possible answer that nature has been using to kill these bugs for a very long time.

A study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface explored the possibility of using a mechanism found on bean leaves to eradicate bed bugs. Nature may have just found the key to their demise long before we even had to deal with the pests. Tiny hooked hairs grow on the surface of bean leaves that effectively trap them by impaling their legs. The hairs take advantage of the bed bug’s anatomy to trap them, piercing the pests in their only vulnerable spots, the areas where their legs bend and flex and the only part of their bodies where their exoskeleton is thin enough to pierce. The American scientists in charge of the study are endeavoring to create a bed bug defense system utilizing the unique design of the bean leaf.

The idea apparently first came from Eastern European housewives in the early 1900’s, who recognized the bean leaf’s pest control potential and would spread bean leaves around the floor of an infested room at night. When they came back in the morning to survey the room, the leaves would be covered with bed bugs, which were then collected and burned. The researchers of the study believe the plant could be used as a blueprint to be used to create a new defense against bed bugs. Their goal is to create barbs out of synthetic materials that possess similar physical properties to the hairs on the bean leaves and replicate nature’s answer to bed bugs. So far, their synthetic barbs are not living up to the originals, but they are confident they know what they need to do to successfully recreate the properties and amazing pest control powers of the bean hairs.

What do you think of the way bean leaves are able to trap bed bugs? Do you think they could be used to create a successful method of controlling bed bugs?