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Insect Behavior: Surrogate Insects Produced with Magnetic Stirrer

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In studies of behavior, it is common practice to test for the response of live animals to models or other surrogate devices. The models may need to be movable and lively, and a diversity of “robots” and “marionettes” has been created for the purpose. We here call attention to use of a conventional apparatus, the magnetic stirrer, to engender mobility in artificial insects. A small ferromagnetic probe, fashioned in any desired shape and placed in a dish or other study arena, may be put into motion simply by positioning the arena over the stirrer. Activation of the stirrer causes the probe to rotate over the magnet, and guided movement of the arena relative to the magnet moves the probe at any desired speed and direction over the test surface. In studies of the defensive behavior termites, we have successfully employed twirling metal bars as substitutes for attacking ants (Fig. 1). Other artificial “insects” could be similarly enlivened for a diversity of experimental purposes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 15, 1973

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  • Annals of the Entomological Society of America is published in January, March, May, July, September, and November. Annals especially invites submission of manuscripts that integrate different areas of insect biology, and address issues that are likely to be of broad relevance to entomologists. Articles also report on basic aspects of the biology of arthropods, divided into categories by subject matter: systematics; ecology and population biology; arthropod biology; arthropods in relation to plant diseases; conservation biology and biodiversity; physiology, biochemistry, and toxicology; morphology, histology, and fine structure; genetics; and behavior.
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