Wasps can do a dog’s job of finding bombs
Published: December 5, 2005 | 2923rd good news item since 2003
Trained wasps could someday replace dogs for sniffing out drugs, bombs and bodies.
Scientists say a species of non-stinging wasps can be trained in only five minutes and are just as sensitive to odors as man’s best friend, which can require up to six months of training at a cost of about $15,000 per dog.
With the use of a handheld device that contains the wasps but allows them to do their work, researchers have been able to use the insects to detect target odors such as a toxin that grows on corn and peanuts, and a chemical used in certain explosives.
“There’s need for a flexible and mobile chemical detector,” said US Department of Agriculture entomologist Joe Lewis, who has been studying wasps since 1960s. “Our best devices are very cumbersome, expensive and highly fragile.”