Wireless Stimulation of Antennal Muscles in Freely Flying Hawkmoths Leads to Flight Path Changes

Armin J. Hinterwirth, Billie Medina, Jacob Lockey, David Otten, Joel Voldman, Jeffrey H. Lang, John G. Hildebrand, Thomas L. Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Insect antennae are sensory organs involved in a variety of behaviors, sensing many different stimulus modalities. As mechanosensors, they are crucial for flight control in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta. One of their roles is to mediate compensatory reflexes of the abdomen in response to rotations of the body in the pitch axis. Abdominal motions, in turn, are a component of the steering mechanism for flying insects. Using a radio controlled, programmable, miniature stimulator, we show that ultra-low-current electrical stimulation of antennal muscles in freely-flying hawkmoths leads to repeatable, transient changes in the animals' pitch angle, as well as less predictable changes in flight speed and flight altitude. We postulate that by deflecting the antennae we indirectly stimulate mechanoreceptors at the base, which drive compensatory reflexes leading to changes in pitch attitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere52725
JournalPloS one
Volume7
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 29 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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    Hinterwirth, A. J., Medina, B., Lockey, J., Otten, D., Voldman, J., Lang, J. H., Hildebrand, J. G., & Daniel, T. L. (2012). Wireless Stimulation of Antennal Muscles in Freely Flying Hawkmoths Leads to Flight Path Changes. PloS one, 7(12), [e52725]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0052725