In this paper, thermal avoidance in tethered flying locusts is described far the first time. Changes in body posture examined using high- speed cinematography revealed that the animals responded to a laterally positioned heat source with contralaterally directed abdomen and hindleg ruddering, behavioural patterns resembling manoeuvres observed in collision avoidance and in response to auditory signals. The analysis also showed that, during stimulation, left and right forewing depression became asymmetrical during the downstroke but remained symmetrical during the upstroke. Hindwing depression and elevation remained symmetrical during stimulus presentations. Electromyographic recordings from the left and right first basalar muscles (M97; forewing depressors) showed that contralateral depressor muscle activity was advanced by 10-12 ms relative to that on the stimulated side. There was also an increase in burst duration on the contralaterally stimulated side and an increase in wingbeat frequency of approximately 3Hz. Ablation experiments showed that removal of the antennal flagella, which are the site of previously described thermoreceptors, did not abolish thermal avoidance manoeuvres. We conclude that thermal avoidance is triggered by an infrared sensitivity that is not mediated by the compound eyes, the ocelli or the antennal flagella.

behaviour, flight, infrared sensitivity, insect, locomotion, Locusta migratoria, motor pattern, steering, temperature
Journal of Experimental Biology
Department of Biology

Robertson, R.M. (R. Meldrum), Kuhnert, C.T. (Christopher T.), & Dawson, J.W. (1996). Thermal avoidance during flight in the locust Locusta migratoria. Journal of Experimental Biology, 199(6), 1383–1393.