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Animals
Mexican jumping bean
-By Rani Iyer

We were at a party, when eight-year-old Heather fetched her pet. It was held in a small, thin gift box that vibrated gently and moved slightly. She allowed each of us to guess her pet. All twelve of us failed. But in the process, we discovered the fascinating life history of a creature, often called simply as the Mexican jumping bean.
But before we do that, let us remember the vagaries of names. Just as pineapples are not apples and peanuts are not nuts, the jumping bean is not a bean, nor is it a seed. It is actually a small, thin-shelled section of a seed capsule containing the larva of a small gray moth called the jumping bean moth (Laspeyresia saltitans).
Sapium biloculare and Sebatiana pavoniana, or the jumping bean shrub belongs to family Euphorbiaceae.

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It flowers in spring and summer months. A female moth lays her eggs on the ovaries of female flowers. When the eggs hatch, the tiny, immature larvae bore into the young capsules and begin feeding on the seeds developing inside. Only seeds without larvae will reach maturity and be viable, and luckily for the plant, not all capsules are infested with moth larvae. When the larva is exposed to sunlight or warmth, it jumps! During winter, the larva will remain motionless and transform into a pupa. By spring, they become adult moth and are ready to begin the life cycle again.
Why does the larva jump when exposed to sun? Scientists believe it a defense mechanism that helps the larvae survive in the wild. The larva moves the capsules out of the hot sun to a more concealed location, such as into a crevice or under a rock, prior to the final critical stages of metamorphosis during which the adult moth is formed. Because of the convex shape of the capsule, the larva will move extraordinarily long distances on a plain surface.
Seed capsules separate into three parts or sections, some of which contain a moth larva. It is these separate sections (carpels) that are sold as "jumping beans." Mexican Jumping Beans are seasonally harvested once a year. They are easy to maintain, require no food, needing minimal care. They can be stored in shoeboxes, from where, about six months later the adult moths emerge. In order for the life cycle to continue, they need the food plant. Although fascinating, this relationship between the moth and the plant is not beneficial for the plant. The moth is not the pollinator of the shrub, and the larva is clearly a seed predator.



User's Comments                     
Eric Quesnel
I would like to know if they need water or anything else to live and become moths? also, is 6 months accurate on hatching?
jess
No they don't need water at least I heard they don't and they need oxygen to breathe. So you can't leave them closed up in a container!
H. Kaz
Our first moth has emerged and we are worried that it is not warm enough outside to let it go free. Can it survive in cooler weather?
what does it need to changeto a moth or butterfly?
I love my 5 beans.
Mom & Zachary
We were looking up information and what exactly the Jumping beans were. Thank you for helping us find out - Zachary and mom
Alli
If your moth has emerged ,it only lives a few days. So unless you have that certain bean plant in your area, the life cycle will not continue.
cade fletcher
what do the moths eat after birth??
Alicia
How long does it take for a Mexican Jumping Bean to hatch?
abby
My dog has become attached to the jumping beans. She thinks they are her babies. She takes care of them and watches them while we hold them. She sleeps along with them. What if they die I am not sure what to do?
me nombre es jackson
I didn't know that those things were real!
sarah
They don't NEED water, but i saw that they live longer when you mist them with luke warm water once a week.
Me
I would like to know why the moths dont live long and in nature what happens to them. If they do die what happens to thier body?
atul
very boring
tessy
I would like to know abaut a moth in arizona
Thoerni
I'm getting 5 Jumping beans very soon, i can't wait!
Breanna
Just wondering how warm does it have to be for the beans to jump about 2 inches high???
Niki
I just got beans and I don't know how to take care of them some people say they need water some say they don't what is the truth?
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