Automatic Insect Painting/Gluing Device for Scientists? Answered
Scientists studying small insects need ways to assign a unique ID to each bug. Two of the most common methods they use are A) manually painting small color patterns onto the thorax (and sometimes head and abdomen) of the insect, and B) gluing a small tag(number, qr code, RFID chip) to the thorax. These techniques are very effective, but SUPER TIME CONSUMING. It can take a trained student about 5 minutes to paint each ant or bee (and they need to paint thousands). I want to help them out by decreasing the amount of man power needed to give a unique ID to each insect.
My thoughts were to make a device where an insect could walk into a tube of designated size (exact bee space at the entrance of a bee hive for instance), have its presence sensed, maybe prevent it's forward or backward motion for a short while, and have a device that attaches a tag or paints a unique pattern onto the insect. You can see some of my initial thoughts in the scanned picture below. HIGH RES HERE
My question is about good places to start in building this contraption, or if anyone has good or simple . The thresholds are quite small for the insects (bees are maybe 1/8-1/4 inch wide), and we need to be exact where we attach the tag so as not to hurt the poor critters or alter their behavior.
I am handy with an arduino and simple servos and can incorporate computer vision from an android phone into the mix with the ADK
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(that lovely ant pic used as an example is by amazing photographer Alex Wild, the other is when you google "honeybee RFID")