Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dining room flight

When I say I research ant flight, many people are surprised.  After all, the ants we see most—the workers—don’t have wings.  But the queens and males of most species have wings and fly.  Some people still aren’t convinced with that answer.  So let me put the matter to rest.

Here in Tallahassee we’ve converted our temporary home into a lab, where we do flight experiments almost every day.  Our living room has a microscope table, and our kitchen and dining room are flight chambers.  We store our field equipment by the couch, and we prop our video camera on chairs.  We keep the live queens we collect in jars on our dining room table.  And we make them fly.

Over the past month Aaron, our physicist-cowboy, has gotten quite adept at lassoing queens and getting them to fly.  An arcane skill, to be sure, but a critical one.  So, for the doubters out there, I present to you a fire ant queen, flying in our very own dining room.  I mean flight chamber.

Our dining room is now a flight chamber where we watch red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) fly for hours on end.


  1. Coolest thing I have seen in awhile. Those darn invisible forcefieds!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I bet the ants are pretty confused about the whole thing.