Unexploded landmines are a real threat to people even today – but now there may be a new solution for tracking them down, in the form of sugar-loving insects.
Mines in Croatia are a hangover from the Balkan Wars during the 1990s, with roughly 750 square kilometers (466 square miles) of dangerous terrain still littering the country. This poses a problem for campers, fishing enthusiasts and even people going into the woods for a casual picnic.
Bees were chosen for the bomb detection duty thanks to their perfect sense of smell. With the right conditioning, this means they could learn to associate the smell of TNT with their food. Another way in which bees are better than rats and dogs – commonly used for mine detection – is that they don’t set off the explosives due their negligible weight.
Nikola Kezic, who is leading the research, says that early tests have been very promising. The scientist is also leading larger effort to clear landmines across Europe – called “Tiramisu” – which could potentially use the bees to great effect.