Mexican Jumping Beans
In the 70's through the early 80's Thrifty's Drug and Discount Stores would announce the end of summer buy selling Mexican jumping beans. They were a seasonal item that would show up late August just as summer vacation ends. The name is really a clever marketing device as the reality of the bean and its need to hop around is repulsive and quite sad. First off they dont look like beans at all. They are some sort of pod segmented into thirds. Second they dont jump they just move. Third, its not the bean it is the creature inside that is doing all the work.
Lets take look into the sad life of the Mexican jumping bean.
The common jumping beans sold in novelty shops throughout the southwestern United States come from a deciduous shrub (Sebastiana pavoniana.) The jumping bean shrubs grow on rocky desert slopes and along arroyos in the region of the Rio Mayo in the states of Sonora and Chihuahua. One of the best places to see this shrub is in the vicinity of Alamos, Mexico, known locally as the "jumping bean capital of the world."
Just as pineapples are not apples, Eggplants are not eggs, and republicans are not publicans, 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). After consuming the seed within the capsule section, the robust, yellowish-white larva has the peculiar habit of throwing itself forcibly from one wall to the other, thereby causing the jumping movements of the capsule. Mexican jumping bean capsules typically separate into three parts or sections, some of which contain a moth larva. It is these separate sections (technically called carpels) that are sold as "jumping beans."
The "beans" jump as a survival measure in order to protect themselves from the heat which can cause them to dry out. The ultraviolet rays from the sun stimulate them to jump, even in cool temperatures, but leaving them in the sun for extended periods will dehydrate and kill them.
These creatures are doomed from the start.
They were harvested and packaged, usually in groups of four, placed into a foam-lined Lucite case, and shipped off to Thrifty's so they could be sold to kids. Kids who would toss them about, throw them, keep them in their jacket pocket for months at a time, and then, throw them away. Inside the larva, or as I like to call it, MAGGOT, is subjected to unfathomable abuse. It is just trying to become a damn moth. Now if they were sold with the name "Twitching larva from Mexico" I doubt they would be on the counter at Thrifty's next to the Bubble Yum.
Even though they are a disgusting form of life they still have the right to survive. To me, the idea of the" Magical Mexican Jumping Bean" is horrible. Buying an object with no indication there is a living thing inside is horrible. Imagine buying a punching bag that squeaked every time you hit it. Funny and kinda cute until you realize there is a living thing struggling to survive inside.
Since Thrifty's is now Rite-Aid they no longer sell these "beans."
They Always Come Back:
They are all over the internet. There are sites that never mention or bury the fact there is a living creature inside. If you need to buy some please treat them with the respect they deserve.
Trapped larva baking in the hot sun