April 15 - Researchers in the US are attempting to produce a synthetic material that can stop bedbugs in their tracks. The scientists want to replicate the bedbug-trapping properties of the bean plant leaf in a non-biological material that won't beak down, and help alleviate a problem that has bugged America's cities for years. Rob Muir reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Bed bugs are a scourge of big cities around the world. As their name suggests, they live and breed in and around bedding in the home, feeding on the blood of their sleeping hosts by night and hiding by day. New York City spends tens of millions of dollars every year on controlling the pests but now, scientists including Catherine Loudon from the University of California at Irvine, are working on a more effective, but less expensive weapon in the war on bedbugs. They are developing synthetic versions of the bean leaf..traditionally used in the Balkans as a bedbug control measure. SOUNDBITE) (English) CATHERINE LOUDON, SENIOR LECTURER SOE, ECOLOGY & EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY AT UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA - IRVINE, SAYING: "When you put a bedbug on a bean leaf, it can take take a few steps and it starts to struggle and invariably becomes entrapped." The bedbug falls victim to microscopic filaments that protrude from the leaf surface. They either impale the bug or wrap themselves around the insect's feet. Loudon and her colleagues think they can replicate the effect with a more durable, synthetic material. She says the results of initial experments have been promising. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CATHERINE LOUDON, SENIOR LECTURER SOE, ECOLOGY & EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY AT UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA - IRVINE, SAYING: "Much to our surprise, when we ran the bedbugs on these artificial surfaces, they would get snagged which was very promising and exciting. They didn't impale them like the real surfaces. There's still a couple of material properties that we have not yet captured and duplicated in our synthetic mimics, that's obviously the next step." Leading, hopes Loudon, to the last step the begbug ever gets to take.