ATS Telemetry Equipment is Used to Track Beetles


Below is an excerpt from an article in Entomology Today that describes a unique and interesting application of how animal tracking can be used even on small insects, such as beetles. ATS is offering transmitters that are some of the smallest and lightest available today. Complete information on our insect tracking systems is available here:


This article includes a link in the last paragraph to a published study in the professional journal "Environmental Entomolgy." The paper describes in great detail how the study was conducted, and its results.

Judas Beetles: How Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles Are Betraying Each Other’s Secrets

tagged coconut rhinoceros beetle

The coconut rhinoceros beetle is a difficult pest to control, but the use of radio
transmitters and laser-engraved identification numbers for tracking is helping
to reveal its often hard-to-find breeding spots. (Photo credit: Matthew Siderhurst)


By Josh Lancette

It starts with the search for a mate. It ends with betrayal. And death. And a toppled crime empire.

How? Someone is wearing a wire from the feds.

Specifically, that someone is a coconut rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros.

Its empire? An army of its kind aiming to destroy palm trees in Southeast Asia and several Pacific Islands.

And the wire? Technically, it’s a radio tracking device, placed on beetles by researchers from the University of Guam, Eastern Mennonite University, and the U.S. Agricultural Research Service.

Josh Lancette

Josh Lancette

But why?

The coconut rhinoceros beetle is an invasive pest that’s devastating palm trees by boring into the crowns of the palms to feed on sap, thus killing the trees. The beetles are hard to control, and techniques such as pheromone trapping, biological control, or sniffer dogs have been ineffective or expensive. One of the most effective strategies for controlling the beetle is finding and eradicating potential breeding locations. However, breeding sites are often cryptic and found in a wide variety of locations, so discovering the sites is easier said than done.

So, the researchers decided to try a new method. Dubbed “the Judas technique,” it involves capturing adult beetles, placing radio tracking devices on them, and then following the tagged beetles to breeding locations using the tracking device. In preliminary tests, the results of which are published in Environmental Entomology, the technique was effective for finding cryptic breeding sites.