We’ve all seen articles detailing remote controling insects via electric pulse systems on their nervous centers. A paper that we uncovered from last year (thanks NVDH), however, details the beginnings of a new kind of remote controlled moth. Hold on to your hats, because this is about to get complicated.
Basically, it all started when aeronautic engineers started looking closely at “insect inspired micro aircraft” as a complement to the large air vehicles that we currently employ. Large vehicles such as planes and helicopters are so massive that they are only minutely affected by changes in air pressure, wind speed, etc. Small air vehicles, however, can be greatly affected by a mere cough or someone opening a door. This sensitivity makes designing systems that control micro air vehicles an extremely complicated science. In an effort to skirt the starting from scratch approach, researchers are trying ways to convert insects into “premade” micro aircraft. Presumably the insects would already have the abilities to adjust for environmental changes, so if we can simply control the insect, then we wouldn’t have to design systems to deal with environmental conditions; the insects would do that for us.
If any of that last paragraph makes sense to you, then please read on…Scientists Aram J. Chung and David Erickson are using a novel approach to controlling flying insects: injecting them with different amounts of various venoms in order to control their metabolisms which in turn could control their movements.
Why did you program me to feel pain?
Chung and Erickson implanted Tobacco hornworm pupae with microfluid devices. The devices inject the moths with different kinds of venom (insect, spider, and synthetic insecticides). The scientists then studied the different venoms’ effects on the moths metabolisms and thus on their movements. Their experiment showed that they could indeed speed up or slow down the moths’ using the venom. Presumably the different venoms could be used on one wing or another or the moth in whole in order to control its motion precisely.
Chung and Erickson then designed a new microfluid device, one that injected themselves with large amounts of alcohol in order to erase the memories and feelings of immorality associated with outfitting larval creatures with devices that inject them with different kinds of venom. It’s a vicious cycle, really.