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Discovery Files - "Webslinger"

Discovery Files
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Discovery Files - "Webslinger"

Credit: NSF/Clear Channel Communications/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

How do you milk a spider? Very carefully.

I'm Bob Karson with "The Discovery Files" -- new advances in science and engineering from the National Science Foundation

Spiderman, the legendary comic book and movie hero, got his powers from an accidental encounter with an arachnid.

But there's a real spider man at the University of Connecticut who also believes in the power of spider venom. Glenn King is a research scientist who has a close personal relationship with the deadly Blue Mountains funnel-web spider. He regularly extracts its venom, and is studying its properties in an attempt to come up with a safe alternative to pesticides.

The world loses a fourth of its crops every year to insect infestations. Unfortunately, our attempts to eradicate them with chemicals have backfired, producing more resistant insects, and dangerous toxins in our food supply and the environment.

King's research involves breaking down specific components of the venom in an effort to create a new class of crop savers lethal to selected pests, yet non-toxic to humans, helpful insects, animals and the ecosystem.

If someone asks where we may find the perfect pesticide, you could say, "just look on the web."

"The Discovery Files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at

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