For centuries, eastern Europeans, before the widespread application of pesticides such as DDT, would scatter the leaves from kidney bean plants around their beds as traps. In the morning the leaves would be covered with red dots, where the microscopic hairs on the leaves would have hooked the legs of a bedbug, stopping the creature in its munching little tracks.
The folklore remedy would then have you burn the bug-encrusted greenery and reapply until the problem is gone. And while leaves on the floor is fine, sleeping with them in bed may result in an itch-factor that could be just as uncomfortable as the bites from the bugs.
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Now that bedbugs have become resistant to pesticides - and other remedies such as freezing, extreme heating, and vacuuming are either expensive or unreliable - the old methods are being put to the scientific test under an electron microscope.
Bedbug locomotion specialist Catherine Loudon of the University of California, Irvine, is working with a team of entomologists to develop a synthetic mimic of the bean plant leaves. The hairs, known botanically as trichomes, on the leaves attack the bugs' legs at their weakest points.