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Miniature Tags Track Dragonflies 32

celardore writes "BBC News reports about the epic journeys taken by dragonflies searching for warmer climates have been revealed by scientists in the US. The team, led by researchers from Princeton University, found that the insects are capable of flying up to 85 miles (137 km) in a day. Each transmitter weighed about a third of a gram and had enough battery life to track an individual for 10 days; but tagging such small creatures is far from easy. "The challenge is first catching the dragonfly," said Professor Wilcove. Once caught, each transmitter was attached with a couple of drops of superglue and some eye-lash adhesive."
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Miniature Tags Track Dragonflies

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  • We all hope that this kind of technology will be used only for this kind of purposes and not for Humans.
    Such a technology could lead to a 24x7 tracking of persons: where they are and when, at least.

    • May be handy to use on prisoners out on parole... ?!
      • May be handy to use on prisoners out on parole

        May be. The bad news would come when this tag will become mandatory for everyone for every day usage.
        In any case, unless you implant it very deep in the body, it can be removed or transplanted on someone else.
        People is to be identified by something they are not by something they have. Also by something they know is not good, because in this case the knowledge, that is the information, can be copied, erased or modified. Our brains are not read-only.

      • by bpd1069 ( 57573 )
        You mean just track citizens who don't have the right to vote? The ones with absolutely no political voice? /. gone fascist?

        And the sad part is, i'll get modded as a troll...
    • That's what the Real ID Act is for, and the [cnn.com] cameras [gizmag.com].

      Author David Brin argues that people will take advantage of the IPv6 system to litter the landscape with cheap sensors and cameras.
      • Re:Good use for tags (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mangu ( 126918 )
        litter the landscape with cheap sensors and cameras.

        I think that's inevitable. We already have millions of cameras controlling traffic. They have started with OCR for automatic reading of car license plates which reportedly works in real time. Next step will be face recognition software, I guess in the next ten years that will be very easy.

        No more privacy in public places, which, despite being an oxymoron, we have come to take for granted in big cities. Well, I guess it's not so bad, anyone who grew up in

    • Considering how widespread cell phones are one could say humans have allready decided to tag themselves.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2006 @04:37AM (#15306744)
    The same transmitters attached to mosquitos lead to a surprising result: each tagged mosquito stayed in the exact same meter squared for all 10 days of the experiment. Scientists are baffled because previous theories postulated that mosquitos were able to travel much longer distances.
    • When they learned that insects wich fly over tarmac can reach speeds of up to 120km/h but tend to do a lot of travelling between cities 5 days a week and take a trip to the beach on weekends. This leads them conclude that tarmac helps dragonflys achieve great speed. As further evidenced by insects flying near the great stretches of tarmac around airports can fly up to and over the speed of sound.

      Science. Love it.

      Still, 1/3 of a gram transmitter. That 100 gram cellphone ain't all that hot now is it.

  • "The challenge is first catching the dragonfly"
    O RLY?
  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:05AM (#15306792) Homepage Journal
    On a bicycle trip from Victoria, B.C. to Montreal, Que. I stopped near a small lake in Ontario. The lake was a few hundred yards off the highway. There were no cabins at the near shore off the road and the terrain dropped quickly down 40 or 50 feet at the lake edge to the lake surface.

    As I began setting up camp late in the afternoon I began to notice first a couple then dozens of giant neon blue and black dragonflies. After I had set up camp I walked a bit closer to the rock bluff above the lake and sat down. There were untold numbers of dragonflies all around me. Most were quite large but there were also smaller ones. After I settled on an outcropping of Canadian Sheild the dragonflies began to settle on rock and plants everywhere. I sat still and watched what was a surreal dance of hovering and slow moving dragonflies move lazily in the late afternoon summer heat.

    Needless to say there wasn't a mosquito to be seen or heard. I'd never before seen so many dargonflies and haven't since. Perhaps it was a hatching site, but the numbers were unestimatable. It was more a work of imagination than reality.

    Anyone had a similar experience?

    • Sadly, 1/3 of (known) dragonfly species are listed as threatened or endangered on the IUCN Red List of endangered species.

      Life that relies on small ponds (rather then larger bodies of water) tends to be quite sensitive to insecticides & pesticides. I suspect the pond you're talking about was nowhere near any orchards (or other commercial farming).

      I'ts important to remember that nearly all ponds used to be like the one you're talking about - and could be again, if we just started being a little more sensitive.
    • > On a bicycle trip from Victoria, B.C. to Montreal, Que. I stopped near a small
      > lake in Ontario. ...
      > I began to notice first a couple then dozens of giant neon blue and black
      > dragonflies ...
      > the dragonflies began to settle on rock and plants everywhere. I sat still and
      > watched what was a surreal dance of hovering and slow moving dragonflies move
      > lazily in the late afternoon summer heat. ...
      > Anyone had a similar experience?

      Yeah, this guy:

      http://www.normal-design.com/bicycle-ri [normal-design.com]
    • Good retelling... did you get any photos?
      • Hi sorry for the late reply.

        No pics. I had a little 35 to 110 Pentax waterproof with me, but by the time I hit Ontario I had lost interest in taking pictures. It had become about endurance and motion.


  • "The study was rumored to be funded through several layers of dummies (because no financially prudent person would fund such a silly-seeming study): Originally, funds may have come from DARPA. When questioned, agency representatives refused to comment on the potential military uses of dragonflies as long-range recon scouting animals carrying larger transmitters with video, infrared or radar transmitting capabilities, yet seemed pleased overall with the results of the study."

    Now, to confirm, all we need to
  • by Nuffsaid ( 855987 ) on Thursday May 11, 2006 @05:38AM (#15306852)
    I wonder how far these insects can fly when not burdened with an electronic tag. Or a coconut. African dragonflies, I mean.
  • Since we know superglue only works on stuff you don't want to glue together, and eye-lash adhesive works well on, well, eyelashes, why did they bother with the superglue?

    Does the combination of superglue and eye-lash adhesive have magical properties that makes it easy to work with?

    Or did the researchers have another study going on to compare the two?

    Or, did they only use the superglue on the male dragonflys and the eye-lash adhesive on the female dragonflys?

  • by azav ( 469988 )
    I for one, welcome our new dragonfly overlords!

  • If the dragonfly migration paths are similar to that of songbirds, it would argue that there are certain environmental selectors for "good" migration routes for many of the migratory species. That could be a useful argument for trying to preserve the rapidly-vanishing lands along migration corridors. Songbirds are definitely declining in number due to habitat loss on their migration routes and that does not bode well for other species that might follow similar paths.

Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.