Sirlaugh’s Blog

March 23, 2009

St. Louis Zoo tests whether a bug can fly with a back-pack

Filed under: Uncategorized — sirlaugh @ 1:06 pm
St. Louis Zoo tests whether a bug can fly with a back-pack
Dan Howard, a researcher with the University of Toronto Scarborough. Dawn Majors

March,18, 2009 – Dan Howard, a researcher with the University of Toronto Scarborough was at the St. Louis Zoo today trying to “collar” some American Burying Beetles with radiotransmitters. Howard is trying to learn more about the endangered insect. His aim today was to try and determine whether the beetles could fly with the newly created transmitter, which weighs less than an ounce. (Photos by Dawn Majors/P-D)
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Balancing on the end of a piece of wood, the orange and black beetle stretched out her wings and prepared to elude her captors at the St. Louis Zoo.
And had it not been for the radio transmitter glued to her back, she just might have gotten farther than the floor of the research lab inside the Insectarium.

“That’s about equivalent to a 100-pound person wearing a 30-pound back pack while they run,” said Dan Howard, a researcher from the University of Toronto-Scarborough. “There’s only one way to find out if they can do it, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Howard was visiting the zoo on Wednesday to test the transmitters in hopes of learning more about the life cycle of the American burying beetle — a federally endangered species.

The zoo agreed to allow some of their thumb-sized beetles to be test subjects in hopes of sharing information that can be gleaned from the transmitters, which weigh about a third of a gram and are about half the size of a piece of rice.

They’ll learn how far the beetle flies, where it seeks refuge during the day and how far it travels at night.

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