A team of scientists has conducted an experiment to determine how exactly can hawkmoths see the flowers they want to feed on in poor light conditions.
Scientists knew that this species of moth can see in the dark, but thanks to this experiment they were able to understand more about the insect’s special ability.
The hawkmoth, also known as the Manduca sexta, is almost as big as a hummingbird.
This insect can see in the dark, which allows it to track the movements of the flowers it wants to feed on.
The researchers studied the hawkmoths using infrared cameras and mechanical flowers to see exactly how they react.
The scientists examined the moths in different light conditions, and they also changed the speed at which the robotic flowers moved from side to side.
The next step of the experiment was to record how well the feeding probe of the insects remained within the artificial flower.
According to what the experiment suggests, the hawkmoths have the ability of slowing down the activity of their brain while they are out at night seeking for nectar.
The experiment revealed that this species of moths can also improve their eyesight in poor light conditions.
While the insect’s brain is working on reducing the speed, the moth can also maintain that rapid flapping of its wings. This way it can concentrate on sucking the nectar from the flowers.
The scientists created the artificial flowers using 3D printing technology.
They first studied the way real flowers moved from side to side.
The researchers involved in the study believe the new experiment could help engineers build more advanced aerial robots that can be used for actions like surveillance and rescue operations.
Scientists received funds from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to conduct their new experiment.
Simon Sponberg, a researcher at the School of Physics and School of Applied Physiology from Georgia Institute of Technology, explained that understanding how different species of animals deal with sensing environments is very important.
Sponberg added that the findings could help develop more accurate micro air vehicles.
The findings of the new experiment were published in the journal Science.
Image Source: gatech