Researcher Makes Ants Dance By Controlling Their Pheromones

Ollie Palmer wanted to reproduce the pheromones the insects use to communicate to direct them and choreograph their movements.

Designer Ollie Palmer from the Bartlett School of Architecture in London is creating an ant ballet by reproducing the pheromones they use to communicate. This research project into paranoia, control systems, insects, and architecture, is split into four phases. Palmer has conducted thorough research into Linepthinema humile Argentine ants and has used a robotic arm to lay powder trails of synthesised pheromones (Z9:16 Ald Hexadecenal), which caused the ants to move in a different way to their natural foraging behaviour. Palmer told Wired:

A lot of research was involved in developing the technology to make ants dance… This is just the first of four phases. We now want to work with choreographers to create balletic movements.

Palmer next plans to create a synchronized dance for the ants, which they are set to perform live at Pestival in Brazil next year. The video below shows the first public testing of the Ant Ballet Machine in Barcelona:

Ollie Palmer

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