Mexican jumping beans. I was always fascinated by them. What made them move? Was there a micro battery-operated mechanism inside that strange little bean that made it twitch? Well, truth is stranger than fiction. The ‘beans’ are actually seed pods from the Sebastiana Pavoniana tree, a shrub native to the arid areas of Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico. When the shrub blooms in Spring and Summer, it’s flowers attract the Laspeyresia Saltitans moth, with egg laying females depositing their progeny onto the seed pods of the tree. The egg larvae then bore a hole into the pods where they individually feed on the seed within, creating a thin-shelled capsule. After consuming the nourishment inside, the larva has room to move around his tiny home. Its movement is triggered by survival instincts as the larvae wiggle and squirm whenever heat builds up inside the capsule, thus causing the pod to ‘jump’.
After learning about this, I thought it was even more bizarre than the idea of nano-robotic activity in beans…”you mean to tell me that I just purchased some strange, foreign, larvae-laden seed pods that were still moving in their flimsy plastic packaging while hanging next to a display of beef jerky and breath mints at the local convenience store?”

Published in: Uncategorized on May 1, 2012 at 7:47 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I totally remember having jumping beans! Great drawing…and info about those little jumpers!

  2. What, you haven’t heard? Those so-called “wasps” are actually tiny alien robots, on a mission to confuse & befuddle our youth. You were right all along. 😉

  3. Jumping beans! These brings back great memories as a kid, and me wondering just WHAT was going on. Wonderful illustration, you can even make beans look so pretty!

  4. Okay, I want to know why I, a sometimes-botanical-artist, didn’t think of this?! They’re fabulous! And I love your comment about them being sold next to edibles…it does give one pause.

  5. Eewwwww. I played with those things, but they’re actually “strange, foreign, larvae-laden seed pods”?! Yuck. But I have to admit you made me laugh, and I always love your drawings 🙂

  6. Jumping beans- perfect! Your story and illustration are wonderful. After getting over the shock of finding out what was inside, did you ever break one open?

    • No, I did not look inside -but I have to admit to being extremely curious now that you mention it!

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