Mar. 14, 2012

Tracking Insects

by The Bug Chicks

Click to enlarge images

We're on our way back from an idyllic week in Costa Rica. We've been filming for a solid seven days and we can't even begin to tell you the things we've seen. Frogs, snakes, mammals and insects...oh the insects. When entomologists die, their souls go to Costa Rica.

Bullet ant scout stinging a Parides iphidamas caterpillar.

We've filmed a lot of hymenopterans this week, mostly bullet and army ants. On our nightly hikes we've seen lone bullet ant scouts out on patrol. Sometimes they are hunting (as in the picture above) but often they are walking up tree trunks. How far do they wander from the nest? Do bullet ant scouts ever run into scouts from other colonies? How big is their hunting range? These are questions that will get answers when we get back to the States and do a bit of research but in the meantime we were reminded of a podcast we recorded. Bugging Bees is about scientists putting tiny transmitter backpacks on the backs of orchid bees to track their movements. We think you'll like it!

Listen now:

In this episode of Bug Bytes, we explore new technologies for tracking insects as they are on the move. In South America, orchid bees are wearing radio backpacks, Bees are some of the most important organisms on the planet, and scientists have devised an interesting new way to find out more about them. (original post February 2010)

Photos and Cool Links:

We have some packing to do, and some last minute shots of a giant cerambycid to take. (It will take both of us to wrangle him and protect each other from his impressive mandibles!) Until next week, Pura Vida!


About The Bug Chicks

Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker are The Bug Chicks. They each have Masters Degrees in Entomology and love to teach people about insects and spiders.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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