Bean Leaves Could Be Key To Eradicating Bedbugs

Apr 10, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. - An age old remedy for bedbugs is now the subject of a new high tech study being conducted by researchers at the University of Kentucky and the University of California, Irvine.  The team’s mission involves replicating the action of tiny microscopic plant hairs called trichomes, which are located on the surface of bean leaves. 

“They found that they could sprinkle bean leaves on the floors of their dwellings and capture bedbugs.    The mechanism by which that occurs is through these little plant hairs called trichomes which is a natural defense that plants have to deter attacks by certain types of plant feeding insects," said UK Entomology Professor, Michael Potter.

Potter, and his colleague Ken Haynes are part of the research team developing materials that geometrically mimic the trichomes on the bean leaves.

“The first step was trying to better determine exactly how the bean leaves were entrapping the bedbugs which we determined to be mainly capturing them, or literally hooking and piercing them on their feet and legs by these little tiny fish-hook hairs on the bean plants and then it was a matter of trying to synthesize or make a synthetic version of this," Potter said.

Bedbugs have made a dramatic comeback in the U-S in recent years as the highly adaptable critters have proven resistant to commercial prevention methods including freezing, extreme heating, vacuuming and pesticides.  The bedbug team’s findings are published online in the Journal of the Royal Society interface.