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Would You Risk Venomous Insect Stings For Your Job? | National Geographic

harvester ants are intriguing because not only are they among the most painful of all stinging insects their venom is 3040 times more toxic than say rattlesnake venom and if you pick them up by hand well you might just get stung biggest risk around here is not being stung by the harvester ants I use an aspirator as we call it so what I do is I can very carefully pick up the and if you do it right you can pick up just the end and not a whole mouthful of dirt takes a little bit of practice but you get good at after a while it’s a little awkward in here I’ve been to 22 or 23 different countries over this time I estimate have been stung by about thousand to 1,500 different times don’t like it but you know it’s occupational hazard my research consists of testing various Venom’s from various insects I’m doing biochemical and pharmacological tests on them on the medical level we can use insect venom for helping our own welfare and say chronic pain from from surgery or or arthritis or cancer or something of this nature that’s the tip of the abdomen including the stinger and you put the little bit of venom into there the idea is we’d like to be able to make a specific drug that targets just the pain doesn’t have all these side effects which is so devastating so I’m coming up to a collection of Pacific cicada killers these are probably the fastest wasps that I know of they’re incredibly hard to catch most of what they’re doing right now is these are males they’re sparring with each other trying to set up territories to attract the females for mating I finally got one he’s in the net come on fella come up the far end Wiggin that’s a good guy no I succeeded hello there little fella oh I know you’re not happy how can you not admire the beauty of something like this cicada killer but you see he’s got this clever trick he’s acting like a female the females of course are the ones that can sting I’m sneaky enough to know that he’s just just a sweet loveable male and they can’t really hurt me I’m fascinated with Venom’s because they allow us to understand the evolution of sociality but also it helps us understand ourselves we’re social animals and we compare our sociality with insects and see what do we have in common we can learn from their stories we can learn to love the insects or even if we’re afraid of them if we understand them we can be a little less afraid and a little more tolerant and that will improve our joy of life [Music] this is a containment facility for our live exhibits right here something that’s in there again they have really meaty cause full of muscle they can use that to grab anything smaller than them so we feed them crickets
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLRq7soCsUE

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