Every once in awhile I get the urge to try and find something interesting in old literature, and today was one of those days. So I went over to my pile of old “Journal of Economic Entomology” journals and snatched a 1943 issue from the top. The pest issues that we had to deal with during the war years were interesting because resources were tight — we had DDT (and lead arsenate), but all of it was going to the front to protect our soldiers from lice. So scientists back home were trying new things. One which I had never heard of before today was getting a serious look: The yam bean. The yam bean is a tropical legume which has a great deal of potential as a high nutrient food crop (the root of the bean is what is edible, not the seeds). The food part is interesting to me, but more interesting is the fact that a dust could be made from grinding the beans into a powder which would kill insects. After looking through some articles I discovered that the primary source of toxicity in the yam bean is rotenone and some similar chemicals. I’m not a big fan of rotenone, still, this plant is fascinating. An edible root and seeds which can be used very effectively as an insecticide. Why wasn’t this plant more common 50 or 100 years ago? What other plants are we missing out there which are useful?