Marking Insects - ants, beetles.
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Marking Ants and Beetles

Does anyone have experience with using paint on insects?

 Lots of folks do - and with other insects, as well. I prefer tiny dots of enamel paint, other folks use colored white-out. The essential thing is to be able to apply as small a mark as possible, to absolutely minimize any mechanical effects or chemical effects. The smaller the mark, the better for being able to make marks unique, as well (i.e., if you can distinguish between a mark on the right side of the thorax from a mark on the left, or center, or anterior or posterior, then you greatly multiply the number of unique combinations possible).

Should I use specific colors?

Yes: ones that you can tell apart without having to disturb the ants. If two colors are too similar, at the size dots you're using (or if there is any fading or dulling), then you can be in serious trouble. I always used five colors: white, blue (a very slightly light shade), pink (a slightly dark shade), green, and a slightly orangey yellow. The bugs I studied live in soil burrows, and I had to give up on using red because if it got slightly dirty, it became almost invisible.

Could there be a paint effect or even a color effect?

The ants or beetles shouldn't care what colors anyone has - but ants with paint and without could certainly smell different, and THAT might have an effect.

Doug Yanega
Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum Univ. of California,
Riverside, CA 92521-0314
skype: dyanega phone: (951) 827-4315
(standard disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's) "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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Last modified on Sunday, 3 January 2016