Mexican jumping beans are famous toys among Latinos and people worldwide because of their unique appearance and movement. But have you ever wondered what’s inside these beans and why they jump?

These little shells, known as pets or lucky charms, are seeds from a tree that grows in Northern Mexico, primarily in Chihuahua, Sinaloa, and the city of Álamos, Sonora, the world capital of jumping beans. 

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The magazine ”Discover Wild Life” reported that inside the seed lives the Cydia Deshiaisiana, a type of moth caterpillar that matures within the fallen seedpods of Sebastiania shrubs, which flourish in the arid Mexican climate.

According to BBC Studios, this type of caterpillar lays its eggs there, and when external circumstances break the shell, it repairs the damage by creating a silky wall.

Mexican jumping beans are susceptible to light and heat, and that’s the reason they leap

The larva feeds inside the bean as it grows, and when it’s ready to transform, it breaks free and flies away. But what causes the beans to jump? They move to avoid light and temperature changes, especially heat, to survive at all costs.

Critics argue that the use of live larvae in these toys is inhumane, as the beans can become quite hot when exposed to heat, which may harm or even kill the larvae inside. They believe that using animals for entertainment in this manner is unethical and should be stopped.

Proponents of Mexican jumping beans claim that the larvae are not harmed during the brief period of use and that the tradition is culturally significant in Mexico. They argue that these beans provide a unique way for people to learn about the natural world and appreciate the complexity of life.

In a viral TikTok video, Connor Clary shared a theory about the history behind these insect jumps, sparking an intriguing conversation among social media followers about animal cruelty. 

“Too much heat was lethal to the larva, so they interpreted your hand as the scorching hot Mexican sun, and these worms were living inside of a coffin. Every time we found childhood joy in their movement, they were actually burning alive,” he said.

@connor.clary

Replying to @Aviva_Arts CREEPIEST CHILDRENS TOYS THROUGHOUT HISTORY: “mexican jumping beans”

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Social media users shared their anecdotes of playing with this toy, some joyous and others not so much

Of course, social media users were quick to react to Clary’s video and share their experiences playing with the jumping beans, highlighting the importance of parental guidance. 

On TikTok, one user commented: “I played with jumping beans differently. We knew there were moths, so we cared for them till they hatched.”

Another person thanked his mother for speaking the truth when they were kids.

“I’ve had entomophobia my whole life, and when I was little, I told my mom I wanted this, so she told me what it really was. Thanks for looking out, Mom.”

Some admitted that they had eaten it, thinking it was beans.

“I ate one of those as a kid,” shared another user.

Meanwhile, on Instagram, some admitted feeling bad about the bugs: “I am so disturbed, and also I feel so terrible because I had these. It never occurred to me they were alive”.

Others noted they are still for sale.

“They still sell them on Amazon, and they have amazing reviews,” commented someone.

Another person added: “Sold right alongside lucky rabbits’ feet. What a cruel twist on luck.”