Drug Bugs May Be Flying at an Airport Near You
Dog training certainly seems accessible for any interested owner, and lab mice and rats are well heeled with the assistance of their scientist overlords, but trained bugs?
Turns out bees are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Maybe it’s the prejudice of their small size, or alien insect natures, but humans have figured out how to communicate with bees. And in the process, these friendly little yellow and black critters may be the next big thing in security.
Airport security, that is. Bees work cheap, and don’t take up a lot of space. Not only that, they bring their own uniforms.
But how do we know when they’ve found drugs, or bombs? At this stage, they have only proven their ability to locate cocaine and heroin, and it’s the antennal response.
Cockroaches and moths did a pretty decent job, too, but the honeybees had the most sensitive antenna.
As bizarre as trained bugs may seem, they have some definite advantages over highly trained dogs.
First, dogs have difficulty re-learning to identify new drugs – and bees show no such problem. Dogs also can adopt human prejudices, because they are so well tuned to our behavioral cues. Bees don’t pick up on our opinions.
So far, bees have only been tested at sniffing drugs, but the future for bug-training is wide-open.