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Operation Wasp

Microplitis_croceipes_waspIn keeping with the nature theme I've got going this week (see yesterday's post on the Eagle's nest), today I'm going to focus on wasps.

More specifically, an article I read awhile back entitled, "Scientists recruit wasps for war on terror."

Apparently, scientists at the University of Georgia-Tifton Campus have trained wasps to check for explosives at airports and toxins in subways. "You can rear them by the thousands, and you can train them within a matter of minutes," says Joe Lewis, a U.S. Agriculture Department entomologist. Isn't that unreal?!

But before you envision an army of wasps swarming around the enemy...the scientists have actually developed a hand-held device which contains the wasps while they do their thing. It's now ready for pilot tests and may be available for commercial use in 5-10 years. The wasp brigade could supplement or even replace bomb-sniffing dogs, which cost thousands of dollars and take months to train.

And because wasps are sensitive to a variety of chemical odors, they may also prove helpful in detecting crop fungus while it's still below ground-level, and detecting cancers or ulcers by smelling someone's breath.

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