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The Role of Vision and Mechanosensation in Insect Flight Control

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Final rept. 1 Oct 2008-1 Oct 2011

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One of the main goals within this project has been to develop assays to investigate the mechanisms of visual and mechanosensory flight control in different insect species. During the course of the project, we have constructed two indoor flight facilities, equipped with light-sensitive high-speed cameras MotionBlitz Cube EoSense that film in the infrared spectrum of light. The use of infrared diodes in our experimental set-ups provides us with an effective tool to film insect behavior under any light level, including complete darkness. The experimental assays that we have developed have been successfully tested on bumblebees, halictid bees, flies, hornets and wasps, and we expect them to work on a large range of insects. We have repeatedly visited the lab of Sanjay Sane, at the National Centre of Biological Sciences in Bangalore, to learn how to manipulate the mechanosensory organs of flying insects and included the methods that we have learned in our experimental assays. As a result of using a wide variety of model organisms and approaches, we have made significant progress in this three-year period of the AFOSR contract in our investigations of the role of vision and mechanosensation in insect flight control. Some projects are still in progress or are nearing completion, whereas other have been completed and published in international journals. During the funding period we have accumulated a large amount of behavioral data, that has so far led to two published and one submitted paper and several others are in preparation. Our work has led to considerable understanding of how diurnal and nocturnal insects control flight visually, as well as by mechansosensation.

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  • Biology
  • Anatomy and Physiology

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