The New Scientist magazine is reporting on an intriguing and brazen new Pentagon program that would create living “OrthopterNets”, communication networks made of insects implanted with special technologies to modulate their wingbeats. Crickets, cicadas and katydids, all use their wings to generate sounds, the patterns of which communicate information to others of their kind. The Pentagon wants to use this natural communications network to prompt the insects to emit specific sounds in the presence of specific chemicals.
The result would be cyborg insects, living insects with technology integrated into their physical composition. The technology could have broad application, including “sniffing” applications in the search for toxins, concealed chemical or biological agents, hazmat detection, and even the search for survivors from natural disasters. A number of factors impede the timely locating of survivors buried in rubble after earthquakes or other major disasters.