Can Spider Venom Save the Honeybee?
Insecticides can help protect plants, but they're having a dramatic effect on honeybee populations.
Controlling pests is a constant challenge for farmers. Months of hard work can disappear in no time as insects munch their way across a planted field.
Synthetic insecticides can beat back the swarms, but they also affect other creatures. A new study, just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, offers hope for the future—a bio-based poison that zaps only the bad bugs.
The new pesticide, based on the venom of a particular spider, kills common agricultural pests but leaves honeybees unharmed. (See “Honeybees in East Africa Resist Deadly Pathogens.”)
The bee-friendly nature of this pesticide is a big selling point. Honeybees are vital pollinators, but their numbers are declining around the world. There’s still much debate