TECHKNOW: Things to come ... Big Brother for bugs

TECHKNOW: Things to come ... Big Brother for bugs - Creepy-crawlies account for more than half the known species on the planet. Better understanding of their behaviour could yield breakthroughs, not least in the fight against insect-borne diseases such as malaria and sleeping sickness. But observing insects is difficult.

by James Woudhuysen, James@Woudhuysen.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Creepy-crawlies account for more than half the known species on the planet. Better understanding of their behaviour could yield breakthroughs, not least in the fight against insect-borne diseases such as malaria and sleeping sickness. But observing insects is difficult.

Now a Bristol film-maker has built a camera with a lens only 6mm wide, compared to the usual 30mm-100mm. Attached to a 3m robot arm, the camera gives a bug's eye view without disturbing the insects, so their behaviour is not influenced by filming.

Martin Dohrn has used his device to probe a killer ants' nest, and his film was a Bafta contender (and may have won an award by the time you read this). A fly-on-the-wall documentary to catch.

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