Food: Farming: System
Trained agri-worker beetles   (+1, -5)  [vote for, against]
Or other trained insects do the work on the farm

I'm sure you can train almost any animal.

So train insects to cut the weeds, pick the apples high up on the tree and only if they are ripe, along with other farm hand chores.

Next step: Train bedbugs to watch over the sheep and keep the robbers and wolves away.
-- pashute, Jul 26 2011

Trained fleas http://www.youtube....watch?v=lQYtzoWTYxc
[pashute, Jul 26 2011]

Dogs do it, fleas do it ... even educated snails do it. http://brembs.net/learning/aplysia/
[mouseposture, Jul 26 2011]

Highly Trained Ants Assemble Gecco http://www.youtube....watch?v=d5_J1HcsjMQ
Real funny. Sadly doesn't prove my idea about ants doable, although mousePosture's link above does. [pashute, May 14 2012]

Lord of the Ants http://www.youtube....watch?v=wKbj3ZDmvdU
Starting [18:52] signals and Ant communication. Forget about the music and deep dramatic voice over. [pashute, May 14 2012]

// I'm sure you can train almost any animal //

'Training' is a very wide generality, but if you mean training them to perform complex tasks, I'm sure you can't. The ability to learn behaviors is based on an animal's ecological function; some animals (mostly certain prey animals, certain families of birds, and fish) respond to environmental factors with a set of standard reactions based on what has worked for the species over the course of millenia of evolution. Other animals require a greater degree of creativity and problem-solving in order to survive.

I'm not certain if you can 'train' insects to do anything more than things they'd do anyway. Even then, there's no way you'd get them to perform on command.
-- Alterother, Jul 26 2011


Thanks [mouseposture]! so there you have it! Its doable.

In past cultures thousands of years ago people trained dogs and horses and monkeys and elephants and to an extent they trained pigeons and camels and donkeys and sometimes bears and tigers.

In our time and culture we have lost the will to do so, because it goes against nature. Meanwhile we kill insects on right and left having them charged as enemy #1 (unless they are beetles used for fighting pests on the farm).

My proposal is to "train" them (and if needed grow breeds that are correct for the job) to work for us, cutting weeds, cutting crops, and tilling the ground.
-- pashute, Jul 27 2011


[Pashute] The fact that snails exhibit operant conditioning does not mean that they can be trained for a complex task. (Identifying and cutting weeds). At best you might be able to train pest insects not to attack the crop plant, but first off, you are going to have to train each of the pest individually, it still won't be passed to their offspring, and it most likely won't even last the life of the individual pest, unreinforced operant conditioning wears off.

You are far better off introducing select parasite inscets and similar that already prefferentialy avoid the crop in question, or specifically attack a common weed or pest insect in the field. This is widely known to exist.

As far as breeding for a specific task (as above attacking a specific pest or avoiding a specific crop), that is possible, but you are going to spend quite a bit of time doing it, and even more trying to make sure they don't breed back to the original pest insect.
-- MechE, Jul 27 2011


Similar to the way honey bees, train mosquitos to collect blood from the people and deposite at a central location such as a bottle.
-- VJW, Jul 28 2011


It may be possible, but you then need to think of a way that if,
t1 = time taken to train a beetle to attack a weed
t2 = time taken to attack weed
then
t1 < t2

Currently, t1 is much much greater than t2. How does your idea take steps to solve this problem?
-- zen_tom, Jul 28 2011


t1 = time taken to train a beetle to attack a weed
t2 = time taken for you to attack weed
t3 = time taken for beetle to attack weed
n = number of times beetle will attack a weed before dying

Then you want

t1 + (t3 * n) < (t2 * n)

And this doesn't take into account that the time you've saved can be spent on training more beetles.
-- Wrongfellow, Jul 28 2011


//My proposal is to "train" them (and if needed grow breeds that are correct for the job) to work for us, cutting weeds, cutting crops, and tilling the ground//

I misread that as "grow beards", which I think is a better version.
-- Ling, Jul 28 2011


Never mind weeds: train beetles to trim beards. That sounds more feasible.
-- mouseposture, Jul 28 2011


You guys should the new AntiBakery site, sorry, meant halfBickery.
-- pashute, May 18 2012


//train insects to cut the weeds//
Leaf-cutter ants. Ready trained.
-- AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 18 2012


Thanks simpleton! Even though your not so sure.

Quoting from that long article:

Over the last century, we have seen a fundamental change in perspective on the learning capacities of insects, and there a now several credible lines of evidence that insects are capable of cognitive feats that had previously been ascribed only to "higher" vertebrates.
-- pashute, Jun 05 2012


ok wrong, your right. I give up.
-- pashute, Jun 05 2012


[+] [mouseposture]'s anno.

But maybe you could train insects. You'd need a massive amount of little training boxes: run an insect through its paces until it either learns its job or is deemed hopeless in which case <squish> and put a new insect in place.
-- FlyingToaster, Jun 05 2012


Methinks an easier approach were the ure of eusocial insects, which do such things sans tuition.
-- nineteenthly, Jun 06 2012


In Gerald Pawle's book "The Secret War", there's a chapter dealing with the entomological exploits of the "wheezers and dodgers" (this being the name for the boffins who developed unconventional weapons).

Over the course of about 18 months, they trained ants (good traditional, reliable English black ants) to be attracted to the particular type of lacquer which the Germans were using to insulate the windings of the copper coils of the Enigma machine. This they did by preparing strands of spun sugar, and coating them in the same lacquer, which the ants had to chew through to get to the sugar.

The plan was to air-drop large numbers of these ants onto communications centres in Germany, whereupon at least a few ants would find their way into the Enigma machines and render them inoperable.

However, the plan failed at the first test, when a Wellington bomber was supposed to make a test- drop of ants over a mock-up of a German communications centre on Dartmoor. The canister of ants was accidentally opened shortly after the Wellington left RAF Glibfield, and it was soon realized that most of the electronics in Wellingtons were insulated using a lacquer identical to that in the German Enigma machines.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 08 2012


Ha! An Anti aircraft weapon?
-- Ling, Jun 08 2012



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