UK Researchers Exploring Centuries-Old Bed Bug Remedy

An age-old remedy for bed bugs 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.  UK Entomology professor Mike Potter says centuries ago, Eastern Europeans would sprinkle the leaves on their floors to stop the biting insects dead in their tracks.

“The first step was trying to better determine exactly how the bean leaves were entrapping the bed bugs 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. 

Bed bugs have made a dramatic comeback in the U-S in recent years as the highly adaptable insects 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.

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