You’ve probably never seen or felt a Lasioglossum gotham, a delicate bee about the size of a sesame seed that very rarely stings. But if you live in Brooklyn there’s a chance one has landed on your arm to drink your sweat, or your eye to lap up your tears. Ew.
Researchers in Thailand studied the bees’ drinking habits. ABC reported:
“On landing, automatic blinking with the eye often prevented the bee from getting a firm hold, causing it to fall off the eyelashes,” the researchers wrote in a study titled, “Bees That Drink Human Tears.” “If so, the bee persistently tried again and again until it was successful, or finally gave up and flew off.”
When the odd bee did latch on, the researcher was often unaware. But when several bees set up shop, it was a different story.
“The experience was rather unpleasant, causing strong tear flow,” the authors wrote in the 2009 study published in the Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. “Once a bee had settled and more were approaching, these tended to settle near each other in a row. Closing the eye did not necessarily dislodge bees but some continued to suck at the slit. They were even able to find and settle at closed eyes.”
“Continued to suck at the slit” is a disgusting image. But what’s also disgusting is that the bees prefer human sweat and tears over animals because of how much salt we eat.
“They use humans as a salt lick,” entomologist John Ascher, who found the first sample of these bees while walking through Prospect Park two years ago, told Wall Street Journal. I guess the savory versus sweet debate isn’t unique to people. Shake Shack anyone?
[image via shutterstock]