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Send a sweetie a nice valentine carried by a leaf-cutter ant! Or maybe you want a new way to generate poetry? Perhaps you just want to play with ants!

I started this project over five years ago as an art-science exploration. On the more technological side, I wanted to see how I could get ants to voluntarily carrying around something large and man-made (which could eventually be some QR codes, or sensors, - some ant scientists i worked with had ants carry strain gauges!). On the artistic side, I wanted to play with other techniques of re-arranging words, and letting a natural creatures provide the selection algorithm.

It's quite fun! and just this past Valentine's day, I took Valentine's day commissions to help fund a conference in August all about Art-Science-Technology projects (www.dinacon.org). You can see lots more examples on my youtube account, or our instagram - @digital.naturalism.labs

I wanted to share it so anyone can learn fun ways to send messages through ants!

By the way there is a kind of weird secret to having the ants carry you messages, first you have to dip the papers in pee!

Step 1: First Attempts - Pee Theory

Picture of First Attempts - Pee Theory
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Before we figured out to use pee, I had tried all kinds of other things.

They were interested in any types of paper I could give them, and from talking to different biologists, they suggested the fake "leaves" needed to be scented with something attractive or leaf-like. I tried bating it with sugar water, salt water, different smelly oils, rubbing smushed up leaves on it, but nothing was really working!

During the first hiking hack in panama, though, (https://medium.com/openexplorer-journal/the-adventures-of-a-digital-naturalist-87ef6fd89606 ) we did notice that the ants would swarm wherever we would pee. So i tried some pee on a piece of paper, and voila! it worked! lots of other people have figured out this fun technique too, like Phil Torres and them i think posted some fun videos of leaf cutters carrying words around too using Pee!

XofHope6 months ago
This is awesome! Funny, with a touch of both art and science. Next, coming up with something that'll get your actors to be a bit more on queue?
dougbyte7 months ago
You have way too much time on your hands...……… Hahahaha J/K very interesting and cool tool.
AnandM547 months ago
Cool working with ants..
Kink Jarfold7 months ago
I really enjoyed this. --Kink--
blorgggg (author)  Kink Jarfold7 months ago
thanks!
AussieAlf7 months ago
Interesting job you have there Blorgggg, observing ant behaviour.
Hopefully you will get some antswers along the way.
blorgggg (author)  AussieAlf7 months ago
Thanks!