Far from being the insect-equivalent of sci-fi hipster wear, the chip plastered on the back of this Queensland fruit fly, or Q-fly, allows CSIRO researchers to track the movements of the troublesome pests. With this data, scientists and farmers will be better able to deploy traps and other "management options" — including development of a line of infertile bugs — to help keep numbers under control.
Rather than use dangerous pesticides to protect crops from Q-flies, CSIRO is looking to strategically sterilise the population via a male-only line of the insect, according to press release on CSIRO's media portal. To do this, it first has to figure out exactly how and where they breed.
While you could chase them in a 4WD Twister-style, the organisation has devised a somewhat easier way of keeping tabs on the little guys — by sticking micro-sensors on their backs. The data gathered can then be used to decide where to release the specially-crafted male Q-flies for maximum effect.
Sure, they resemble a certain popular cat meme, but I think we'll all manage if it helps out farmers and allows greater opportunities to export fruits and vegetables.
If you're interested, here's an interview with CSIRO's Dr Paul De Barro explaining the concept in more detail.
Photo: Paulo de Souza