IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — Experts at UC Irvine have documented the effectiveness of a folk remedy for bedbugs. The remedy may clear the way for a synthetic version to someday be produced.
Entomologists Kenneth Haynes and Michael Potter of the University of Kentucky came across various research projects, including one study that dates back all the way to the 1940’s, that demonstrated that kidney bean leaves work for bedbugs the way a bear trap works for bears.
“They asked me if I wanted to become involved, and how could I say no,” UCI biologist Kate Louson asked City News Service. “It’s so interesting and exciting.”
Loudon joined the research team along with doctoral student Megan Szyndler and UC Irvine chemist Robert Corn.
“My reaction was, I’ve got to see this to believe it,” Loudon described. “So they put a bug on a bean leaf, and it takes a couple of steps, and bam, it starts struggling.”
The leaf’s hairs are microscopic, but they seem to hook the bed bugs by the leg, preventing them from getting free.
The Journal of the Royal Society Interface published the team’s research on Tuesday.
Other bedbug remedies commonly used include freezing, extreme heat, vacuuming, and pesticides. However, such methods and prove to be expensive and undependable, according to the researchers.
The kidney bean leaf remedy can be traced back to Bulgaria, Serbia, and other southeast European countries. The leaves would be put on the floor next to beds, and in the morning, they were burned to exterminate the insects.
The researchers have developed synthetic templates of the kidney bean leaves, and according to Loudon, the technology has been optioned by a company.
Bedbugs were not as widespread a problem in the 1940’s as they are today, primarily due to the use of DDT.
“Bedbug numbers were declining because DDT was legal at the time, and it was very effective,” Loudon said.
DDT was banned by the federal government in the 1970’s as its effect on public health became more apparent.