Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 200, Issue 8, pp 723–738 | Cite as

Responses of a pair of flying locusts to lateral looming visual stimuli

  • Indika Benaragama
  • John R. Gray
Original Paper


We presented a pair of locusts flying loosely tethered with laterally looming discs. Two experiments tested whether looming-evoked flight behaviour was affected by the presence (1) or relative position (2) of a conspecific. We recorded: the type of behavioural response, motion within 6 degrees of freedom, behavioural onset time and duration, distance between individuals and relative direction of motion. Response distributions of the locust furthest from the stimulus (L1) were not affected by the presence or relative position of a conspecific, whereas distributions of the closer locust (L2) were affected by its position relative to the stimulus. Motion tracks of L1 were affected by the presence of L2, which generated relatively robust responses directed forward and away from the stimulus. Translational and rotational motion of L1 differed across treatments in both experiments, whereas L2 motion was less sensitive to the presence or position of a conspecific. The start and duration of the behaviour were invariant to the presence or position of a conspecific and locust pairs maintained a fixed distance during responses to looming. Results suggest that looming-evoked behaviour is influenced by visual cues from a conspecific in the vicinity.


Insect Flight Collision avoidance Vision Locust 



Funding provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the University of Saskatchewan.

Supplementary material

359_2014_916_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (69 kb)
Supplementary Figure 1 Two-dimensional motion tracks from Experiment 1 with the azimuthal (top panels) and elevation (bottom panels) planes of L1 (n = 19) and L2 (n = 19) separated into active steering (black lines) and non-steering (glide or startle, grey lines) behaviours. Data were aligned relative to the initial position at the start of the recording (x, y, z coordinates = 0,0,0) and represent motion tracks during the behavioural epoch. Inset in each graph plot shows the average motion vectors from all animals during the first 2 frames of the behavioural epoch. For all data positive (negative) deviations along the x, y and z axis represent movement to the right (left), up (down) or forward (back), respectively. The data show that active steering resulted in greater excursions in the x-plane compared to glides or startle responses and average vectors show more pronounced motion to the left (away from the stimulus). Nevertheless, glides and startle responses also resulted in excursions within the x-plane that were, on average for L2, to the left. For L1, irrespective of response type, and L2 non-steering behaviours, motion within the y-plane was maintained along the longitudinal midline (i.e. motion was primarily forward with little change in altitude). Active steering in L2 resulted in an average decrease in altitude. (PDF 68 kb)
359_2014_916_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (68 kb)
Supplementary Figure 2. Two-dimensional motion tracks from Experiment 2 within the azimuthal (top panels) and elevation (bottom panels) planes of L1 (n = 18) and L2 (n = 18) separated into active steering (black lines) and non-steering (glide or startle, grey lines) behaviours. Data were aligned relative to the initial position at the start of the recording (x, y, z coordinates = 0,0,0) and represent motion tracks during the behavioural epoch. Inset in each graph plot shows the average motion vectors from all animals during the first two frames of the behavioural epoch. For all data positive (negative) deviations along the x, y and z axis represent movement to the right (left), up (down) or forward (back), respectively. The data show similar trends as described in Supplementary Figure 1 except that the average motion vector for L1 in the azimuthal plane aligned with 0 in the x axis. (PDF 67 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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