Concept development

Leaf cutter ants are endemic to Central and South America and form the largest and most complex animal societies on Earth. Humans may learn from the resilience of these life forms and scientists may benefit from low-fidelity probing devices to simplify their observations.

Our Experiential Assays in their Natural Habitat

The team conducted tests to determine how leaf cutter ants would respond to potentially agitative stimuli like Kinetic, Odour, Light, Heat, and Sound. It was observed that the ants responded most to sensory inputs validating the hypothesis that they are strongly directed by their olfactory organs.


Based on on observations, the group determined that the introduction of smell elicited the most significant response. This is consistent with data that ants communicate primarily through pheromones.


The product is a low-fidelity electro-mechanical device for researchers interested to observe leaf cutter ants in their natural habitat. The device includes a laser tripwire that initiates a servo motor which triggers a pheromone for disrupting ants. Upon triggering the circuit, a camera captures time-lapse images of the ants’ reaction. The purpose of this device is for researchers to automate their observations of how leaf-cutter ant may respond to disruptive sensory and other stimuli.


The week-long module and project served the team to learn about the potential of using materials of electronics. The prototype was presented using a model, in a lab setting. If this prototype were to be deployed for its intended purpose, circuitry and setup would require housing and would require regular maintenance to protect it from the elements.