A natural Eastern European folk remedy catches bedbugs more effectively than synthetic mimics.


Catherine Loudon at the University of California, Irvine, and her colleagues used scanning electron microscopy and videography to document why bean leaves, which are traditionally scattered around an infected bed to trap bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) are effective. Tiny hairs on the leaves, known as trichomes, trap the insects by impaling their feet and hooking their legs (pictured). The researchers designed a synthetic mimic of the hairs with a polyvinylsiloxane moulding material often used in dentistry, and a hybrid mimic made of synthetic stalks and natural trichome tips. Although both mimics snagged the bugs, they could not impale them. This suggests that a better bug trap may need to recapitulate the mechanical properties of bean leaf trichomes more closely.

J. R. Soc. Interface 10, 20130174 (2013)