Mexican Jumping Beans Are Real.

October 28, 2013

So as I was heading home from Camp Mighty last week, I had a layover at the Phoenix airport, where I stopped in at the magazine shop to find some useless reading material. And as I was checking out, I kept hearing these clicking noises coming from small plastic boxes stacked up on the counter in front of me. Each box was filled with these little nut looking things that would sort of pop up every once in a while, and next to the whole collection there was a sign that said ‘Mexican Jumping Beans Are Real.’

‘For real?’ I asked the guy behind the counter.

‘For real.’ said he.

Then he gave me an enchantingly lyrical overview that basically covered what Wikipedia says here:

Mexican jumping beans (also known as Frijoles saltarines), native to Mexico, are seed pods that have been inhabited by the larva of a small moth (Cydia deshaisiana). The “bean”, usually tan to brown in color, “jumps” when heated, because the larva spasms in an attempt to roll the seed to a cooler environment to avoid dehydration and consequent death. They are from the shrub Sebastiana pavoniana, often also referred to as “jumping bean”. However, they are not related to actual beans (legume plants), but rather to spurgesThe beans are considered non-toxic, but are not intended to be eaten. After the moth egg laid on the plant hatches, the larva eats away the inside of the bean (until it becomes hollow) and attaches itself to the inside of the bean with silk-like thread. The larva may live for months inside the bean with varying periods of dormancy. If the larva has adequate conditions of moisture and temperature, it will live long enough to go into a pupal stage. In the spring, the moth forces itself out of the bean through a round “trap door”, leaving behind the pupal casing. After its metamorphosis, the small, silver and gray-colored moth lives for no more than a few days.

So there you have it. They’re real and they’re not beans. They are animals trapped in seeds. Kinda creepy.


The enthusiastic shop owner wisely sold this book with the beans: Lucas and His Loco Beans: A Tale of the Mexican Jumping Bean by Ramona Moreno Winner. It explains the concept in storyline and includes English and Spanish words and definitions. It’s a cute book, and Harry liked it a lot. So I’d recommend that you grab a copy.

And you can get the beans here: Seeds and Things 15 Mexican Jumping Beans! Old Fashion Kids Fun –3 Boxes 0f 5 Live Jumping Beans.

They are oddly mesmerizing. Check them out.

Harry loves them. And he’s taking them to school…Spanish class, science class, reading class…lots of applicable landing spots. This is a gift that’s better shared. And it’s perfectly odd enough for Halloween week.

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  • Reply Jenny Stockton October 29, 2013 at 9:57 am

    As a moth HATER, this pleases me immensely. Does that make me a terrible person? I don’t care.

  • Reply Shawna Lewis November 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    People pay money to just have some larvae sitting around that might be mistaken for a chocolate covered espresso bean? Once totally unrelated note, guess what I’m buying my best friend who loves chocolate covered espresso beans for Christmas?

  • Reply Shawna Lewis November 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    *On… Not once… This autocorrect is killing me today.

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