Researchers have unveiled that blow flies could be used to investigate chemical weapons in addition to other chemicals in the environment. This could help to protect humans from potentially dangerous situations that may occur.
The blow flies collect the data by tasting the environment as they fly through it, storing the information in their guts. The researchers can then use the flies to identify the chemicals in the environment.
However for this particular study, the researchers used a chemical weapon simulant, which shares features of chemical warfare agents but is not poisonous to people. They found that this could still be detected even up to 14 days after initial exposure.
“It is fulfilling to know that the work we did throughout this project could improve the safety of war fighters and others who deal with chemicals in the environment,” says Sarah Dowling, a PhD student and study co-author.
Using the blow flies will also allow for scientists and researchers to scan large areas to asses the chemical situation. All they have to do is leave out some bait which will attract the flies and in doing so, they’ll gather the chemical data.
Next researchers will be using what they learnt and applying their knowledge to a two-year project that will be focusing on a new type of explosive compound known as ‘insensitive munitions’, which tend to deposit more into the environment. This should help to keep both citizens and war-fighters safe from potential threats, which they may of otherwise faced without prior knowledge.