back to article Spider venom to be tested for pesticide potential

Australia's Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) has asked researchers to replicate peptides, the nastiest bits of spider venom, in the hope they make pesticides to which insects do not develop resistance. “We know that products from spiders have a wide range of insect-killing abilities that prevent insects …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    How easily we forget...

    ...the bug eating miracle known as the cane toad.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How easily we forget...

      Anyone know if cane toads are immune to spider venom?

      It'd be just our luck if Australia's unrivalled ecology of teeth, spines, venom and general fuck-you attitude had found its match in the one animal less cuddly than a funnel web spider.

    2. 100113.1537
      Thumb Down

      Re: How easily we forget...

      Erm... no, actually. No-one has forgot the cane-toad. Every single bloody article about Australian agriculture has a reference to the cane-toad (including this one).

      Strangely enough, it is precisely because of the cane-toad issue that this this research has been going on in Australia - they are now so paranoid about bringing in new species, they are spending lots of money cataloging and attempting to utilize native species and their genes and proteins.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How easily we forget...

        I was referring to those people that think screwing around with Australian wildlife is the way forward. They are the ones that have forgotten.

  2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Spider resistance

    Spraying fields is what gives insects their resistance. Areas receiving partial doses breed insects having the most natural resistance. No such thing happens with actual spiders. Regardless of whether the victim is killed or stunned by the venom, step two is fatal mummification. Imagine what would happen to pest populations if spraying spider venom renders spiders harmless.

    1. Allan George Dyer

      Re: Spider resistance

      So stage two of the research is implanting the spider venom genes directly in the plants, along with the web-spinning genes.

      Reminds me of a book plot. I'm just out to watch a meteor shower....

      1. Peter Stone

        Re: Re: Spider resistance

        Regarding book plots, I thought the book "Web" by the same author, far more frightening with regard to spiders. I admit I'm not an arachanphobe, but I had one or two twings after reading it.

        1. Peter Stone

          Re: Spider resistance

          Doh!! twings == twinges.

          (blame it on my laptop keyboard!)

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Spider resistance

      Or maybe insects *have* evolved resistance, and spiders have responded by evolving their venom. Either way, it doesn't end well for the humble arachnid.

    3. P. Lee

      Re: Spider resistance

      Next on News at 10: SHOCK: Industrial quantities of poison sprayed onto food found to be not good.

  3. Blofeld's Cat

    Reasonably benign?

    [...] the products themselves are reasonably benign on the environment [...]

    For some reason I find that statement less than reassuring...

    1. Thomas 18
      Big Brother

      Re: Reasonably benign?

      Exactly what I thought, you'd be amazed what big agri considers reasonable.

  4. Yesnomaybe


    OK, so we use spider venom against pests, right, good. But spider venom needs to be sprayed over a large area, in high concentrations, that sounds expensive. And ever so slightly dodgy. What is needed then, is some clever way of using just a small ammount of venom, but more accurately targeted.... Hmmm... Some kind of poison-injecting mechanism inteligently targeting bugs and pests. A bit like a spider perhaps?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    She swallowed the spider to catch the fly, perhaps she'll die

    1. Spider venom covers large area.

    2. Insects vulnerable to spider venom die.

    3. Spiders die from lack of food.


    4. PROFIT

    Also, venom != poison. One is injected, the other ingested.

  6. Ben Hodson

    Why not spend the money that would be used to develop this to pay people to be infertile at $200 per year.

    Less people, less need for intensive farming, less need for yields, less need for damaging bio controls.

    Can anyone actually think of a major world problem that wouldn't be solved/easier to solve if the worlds population was 10% of where it currently is ?

  7. earl grey

    Say what?

    And you think that somehow, magically, the venom will just wash off the plant before you harvest it and eat it? If a little will kill insects, imagine how good a job a lot of it will do on humans when it's sprayed on their food plants....or on them by mistake...yeah... i can't see any problems here....

  8. Audrey S. Thackeray

    Oh, beehive

    "“There are already a couple of products on the market – either viruses or fungi – being used for controlling insects."

    I didn't know this.

    Aren't some of the bee colony collapses blamed on a fungus?

    Any link?

    1. 100113.1537

      Re: Oh, beehive

      Nope, none at all. The testing of any new insect control mechanism focuses specifically on honey bees as beneficial insects - any possible damage and the products are nixed straight away.

    2. Brian Miller

      Re: Oh, beehive

      Honeybee Deaths: Colony Collapse Disorder Linked To Corn Insecticides,

      Apparently honey bee colony collapse may stem from the introduction of neonicotinoid insecticides. While pest insects haven't developed a resistance to it (yet), its persistence has become a serious problem for beneficial insects. So who knows what would happen with a spider venom-based insecticide?

    3. David Pollard

      Bee colony collapses blamed on a fungus?

      In 2010 research was published by Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk et al. on Colony Collapse Disorder. This suggested that fungal and viral infections together were responsible. It also claimed, contrary to the views of other researchers and many beekeepers, that insecticides and pesticides did not significantly harm bees.

      Bayer Crop Science had apparently funded the research. There seems to have been a certain amount of discussion as to whether there was a conflict of interest.

  9. Graham Marsden

    "it's rather hard to milk spiders for their venom"

    For a start you need a really tiny stool...

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