Balkan Folk Remedy Beats Bedbugs

Bean leaves make effective traps, researchers find
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2013 3:12 AM CDT
Balkan Folk Remedy Beats Bedbugs
A bedbug is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Scientists looking for new ways to combat bedbug infestations have found that Eastern European housewives hit on a pretty good strategy centuries ago. Researchers found that leaving kidney bean leaves near beds and burning them the next day, as was long done in Bulgaria and Serbia, is remarkably effective because of hooked hairs on the leaves that trap the bloodsuckers by impaling their feet, the BBC reports.

The remedy was almost completely forgotten after the advent of pesticides, but scientists are now trying to develop a synthetic material that can mimic the leaves' trick of piercing weak spots in the bugs' exoskeletons—providing an effective way to beat today's pesticide-resistant bedbugs. "If someone had suggested to me that impaling insects with little tiny hooks would be a valid form of pest control, I wouldn’t have given it credence," the lead researcher tells the New York Times. "You can think of lots of reasons why it wouldn’t work. That’s why it’s so amazing." (More bedbugs stories.)

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