Carnivorous Clock Kills Insects to Tell Time

It tells time — and helps you get rid of unwanted insect pests.

Two technologically minded artists in London have built a digital clock that catches bugs, then dissolves their bodies to create electrolytes to power itself.

A strip of sticky flypaper moves in a loop over the surface of the unit, much like a treadmill or moving sidewalk.

When an insect lands on the paper, it's trapped and slowly moves toward its final destination, a drop-off into a bath full of carnivorous microbes that break down its body.

"As soon as there is a predatory robot in the room the scene becomes loaded with potential," artist James Auger tells New Scientist magazine. "A fly buzzing around the window suddenly becomes an actor in a live game of life, as the viewer half wills it towards the robot and half hopes for it to escape."

Auger and his collaborative partner Jimmy Loizeau have also built a coffee table that catches and kills mice, and a light that lures buzzing moths to their dooms.

"If the [electrical] system fails, the grid goes down and all humans die," says Auger, "these robots could go on living so long as the flies don't go with us."

• Click here to read more in New Scientist magazine.

• Click here to watch a video of pest-killing robots.

• Click here for a photo gallery.