The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

April 14, 2013

Bed bugs thwarted by kidney bean leaves

LOS ANGELES — Bed bugs have re-emerged as an urban blight in the past several years, forcing people out of homes, resisting chemical pesticides and evading other removal tactics. But researchers are building bug-catchers inspired by an age-old folk remedy to this “ancient scourge”: kidney bean leaves.

Their experiments, described in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, tested the home-grown solution and even made synthetic leaves that could help scientists devise an easy, environmentally friendly method of trapping bugs before they establish a full invasion.

Bean leaves have historically been used in Eastern Europe as low-tech bug traps: bed bugs wandering a floor strewn with the foliage would get stuck on their surfaces, struggling in vain even as the leaves were collected and burned.

Curious about this simple remedy, study co-author Michael Potter of the University of Kentucky teamed up with lead author Catherine Loudon, a University of California, Irvine biologist, to test out the practice.

“I was entranced,” Loudon said. “It seemed so bizarre and unlikely that bean leaves would be capable of actually capturing bed bugs.”

Bedbugs and bean leaves do not usually interact, but the leaves possess a natural defense against hungry insect predators, stopping leaf-eaters in their tracks.

The leaves sport tiny, sharp-hooked hairs called trichomes across their surface. These microscopic hooks, 10 micrometers in diameter and 50 to 100 micrometers high, jab into the insects’ bodies, trapping them before they get very far. Even those that break free are often trapped again a few steps later.

The scientists made moulds of the leaf surface and poured epoxy into them to create synthetic leaves. Some of the natural leaf hooks unexpectedly broke inside the molds and became part of some synthetic leaves when they poured epoxy in.

At first, this was frustrating - until the scientists realized they could use the half-natural, half-man-made leaves to test the pests, too.

The scientists had male bedbugs run across the three types of leaf - real, synthetic and hybrid - and tracked their performance.

The real kidney leaves captured every bug that ran across the surface - typically within nine steps. The synthetic leaves were another matter: They seemed to snag the bugs rather than jab into their bodies, and so the bugs managed to break free and skitter to safety.

The hybrid leaves - the synthetic stalks with the real-leaf hook points - performed poorly as well; the plant points weren’t able to puncture the bugs’ shell when attached to a man-made stalk.

“So that tells us there’s something very cool and subtle going on mechanically in these tiny microscopic hairs,” Loudon said.

The researchers plan to experiment with other materials. Learning the unassuming bean leaf’s secrets could help them create a bio-inspired reusable bug trap that would avoid chemical solutions - and, unlike a real leaf, that wouldn’t dry out after a few days.

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hospital shooting suspect charged with murder

    A man accused of fatally shooting his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex before the doctor returned fire has been charged with murder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Man seeks video of Oklahoma City bombing

    One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

    July 28, 2014

  • Bill in Congress to help veterans with PTSD

    A group of lawmakers have joined together to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Post Traumatic Brain Injury (PTBI) and other war injuries get speedy medical treatment — and avoid Veteran’s Administration bureaucracy and Department of Defense lack of accountability.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia has fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists also has crossed the border.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S. says Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.

    July 25, 2014

  • Gaza sides agree to lull but truce efforts stall

     Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”

    July 25, 2014

  • Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 24, 2014

  • UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 24, 2014

  • Air Algerie jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video