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IPFS News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

A Biologist Tracks Ants With Teeny Radio Tags


Samuel Ellis, a biologist from the University of York, will tag 1,000 hairy wood ants with radio receivers to find out how they communicate and travel. The multiyear project, which begins this summer in Derbyshire, U.K., will be one of the largest radio-tagging experiments of insects in the wild.

Is it difficult to catch a hairy ​wood ant?
No, says Ellis. The one-centimeter-long ants are easy to spot—they move on self-cleared roads—and are not very fast. He picks up an ant by the legs with his bare fingers. “They’re quite obliging,” he says. “They grab on with their teeth.”

How does he get a radio tag onto a squirming ant?
First, he dabs glue onto the ant’s back with a matchstick.