Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Tarantula venom: a new selective, effective edible insecticide

By Margaret C. Hardy

An environmentally-friendly insecticide has been developed from the venom of a native Australian tarantula.

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Insecticide resistance is the quieter, lesser-known relative of antibiotic resistance. Anyone who has been to a hospital recently knows about antibiotic resistant bacteria. But how many people think about insecticide resistance when they spray their home garden with insecticides?

Today, in the journal PLOS ONE, our research group has published the first directed-discovery research program for a new, environmentally-friendly insecticide from the venom of a native Australian tarantula.

How to milk a tarantula.

Although it is no surprise that spider venoms kill insects, this work is particularly exciting because it is the first time scientists have done oral screens to find new insecticidal venom components.

There are three main benefits for our venom-based insecticide:

  1. High efficacy, particularly with insects that are resistant to conventional insecticides.
  2. The oral activity of the compound (rather than contact or systemic toxicity...