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Old wives' tale offers modern solution to bedbugs

Thursday - 4/11/2013, 3:53am  ET

The leaves housewives used in Eastern Europe apparently pierce the legs of the bedbugs at the point where they bend. (AP)

Joan Jones,

WASHINGTON - It sounds like an old wives' tale: To get rid of bedbugs, all you need are leaves.

Bean leaves, to be exact.

For generations, housewives in the Balkans in Eastern Europe would spread the leaves around a room because bedbugs "get impaled by these little hooks on the tips and get trapped," says University of California-Irvine professor Robert Corn.

When pesticides became popular - and effective at battling pests - in the 1940s, the leaf-spreading became unnecessary. If it wasn't for a mention in a United States Department of Agriculture paper in 1943, the practice might have been forgotten, according to The New York Times.

Now, Corn along with a group of other researchers are trying to replicate that sticky surface. Their goal is to develop a sticky tape to apply around the bottom of beds. The tape would impale the critters before they get to your mattress, Corn tells WTOP.

The researchers reported recently in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface that they're closer than ever to developing a fabric or surface that mimics the sticky qualities of the leaves.

So far, they have a patent pending for the technology and their idea has grabbed the attention of at least one commercial company.

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