Microdots spot on for wasp study

Oct 13, 2011
Unmarked wasp on a pinhead

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research by scientists at The Australian National University will see wasps being tracked in the same way as stolen cars – using specialist microdot technology.

The Research School of Biology researchers published a paper in the latest edition of Agricultural and Forest Entomology outlining a successful new tracking technique, which allows them to study insects that were previously too small to track individually.

Lead researcher Michael Whitehead was working with the parasitoid thynnine wasp to investigate its role in orchid pollination, but found available tracking methods impractical.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

“Bee tags were previously used to keep track of small animals, but they were too big in this case, and the electronic devices we could find weren’t going to work,” he said. “So my brother and I came up with the idea to test out microdots as a tracking system.”

Microdots were developed by the Australian company DataDot Technology, as a way of tracking stolen property. The plastic microdots are half a millimetre in diameter and contain a personalised code which can be read under a magnifier.

To test the method, the research team captured wasps around Black Mountain in Canberra and attached coded microdots to their backs with liquid paper or nail polish before releasing them.  After being recaptured, 84 per cent of tagged wasps retained a legible microdot, proving the method to be effective and durable.

“When you’re able to individually mark the you can get data on population size, movement and longevity,” Mr Whitehead said.

“The method also opens the door to a whole range of applications beyond research, ranging from tracing oysters stolen from oyster farms to elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns to combat poaching.”

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Provided by Australian National University

4.5 /5 (2 votes)

Related Stories

Monogamous queens help bees cooperate

Jul 20, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research published today in Nature Communications online journal suggests that monogamy and close genetic relationships work together to enhance the cooperative social structure of ins ...

China releases 600 million wasps to combat moths

Aug 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Chinese forestry officials have released some 600 million parasitic insects into the north China city of Baoding to combat the spread of the American White Moth that has been (in their caterpillar stage) ...

Transparent 'DNA' adhesives help police nab thieves

Feb 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two British companies have worked out a way of helping dealers such as scrap and pawn dealers identify that objects brought to them have been stolen, and from whom, so they can then inform ...

Bees 'read sky' to find home

May 18, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Bees remember landmarks and read information from the sky to find their way home from an amazing 11 kilometres away and over several days’ travel, a new study from The Australian National ...

Orchid sexual deceit has male wasps in a loved-up frenzy

Apr 29, 2008

Orchids are admired by humans and insects alike, but according to Macquarie University research, one Australian wasp is so enthralled by ‘Orchid Fever' that actually he ejaculates while pollinating orchid ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Isaacsname
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
Microdotting predatory insects is a great idea !!

Man, oh man, That's got serious potential. Not just microdots, RFID's, bait pheromones, etc.

I guess the hurdle is coming up with a fast and easy technique for subduing and microdotting ( or whatever ) them en masse for commercial applications.

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.