Temperature Regulation during Locomotion in Insects

  • Bernd Heinrich


Locomotion in insects, as in other animals, requires repeated muscle contractions, and the speed and force of the contractions are a function of muscle temperature. Within limits, the higher the muscle temperature, the greater is the maximum rate of work output (see review by R. K. Josephson, 1980). Since different modes of locomotion require rates of work output that vary over an order of magnitude, the minimum muscle temperature required could presumably differ. In addition, a walking insect can potentially move at a fast or a slow pace, with maximum pace being dictated by muscle temperature. Flight, on the other hand, is an all-or-none response that requires a minimum work output, and a minimum muscle temperature. Rate of wing movements, however, varies greatly between species, and force per wing-beat can vary within the same insect, depending on flight speed and load.


Dung Beetle Flight Muscle Work Output Thoracic Ganglion Muscle Temperature 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barber, S.B. and Pringle, J.W.S. 1966. Functional aspects of flight in belastomatíd bugs (Heteroptera). Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B164, 21–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bartholomew, G.A. 1981. “A matter of size: An examination of endothermy in insects and terrestrial vertebrates,” in: Insect Thermoregulation, (B. Heinrich, ed.), Wiley, New York (45–78).Google Scholar
  3. Bartholomew, G.A. and Casey, T.M. 1977a. Body temperature and oxygen consumption during rest and activity in relation to body size in some tropical beetles. J. Thermal Biol. 2, 173–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartholomew, G.A. and Casey, T.M. 1977b. Endothermy during terrestrial activity in large beetles. Science 195, 882–883.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartholomew, G.A. and Casey, T.M. 1978. Oxygen consumption of moths during rest, pre-flight warm-up, and flight in relation to body size and wing morphology. J. Exp. Biol. 76, 11–25.Google Scholar
  6. Bartholomew, G.A. and Heinrich, B. 1973. A field study of flight temperatures in moths in relation to body weight and wing loading. J. Exp. Biol. 58, 123–135.Google Scholar
  7. Bartholomew, G.A. and Heinrich, B. 1978. Endothermy in African dung beetles during flight, ball making, and ball rolling. J. Exp. Biol. 73, 65–83.Google Scholar
  8. Brocher, F. 1919 Lepidopteres. Les organes pulsatile méso et métatergaux des. Arch. Zool. Exp. Gen. 58, 149–171.Google Scholar
  9. Casey, T.M. 1976. Flight energetics in sphinx moths: heat production and heat loss in Hyles lineata during free flight. J. Exp. Biol. 64, 545–560.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Casey, T.M. 1981. “Behavioral mechanisms of thermoregulation,” in: Insect Thermoregulation, (B. Heinrich, ed.), Wiley, New York (79–114).Google Scholar
  11. Dingle, H. 1961. Flight and swimming reflexes in giant water bugs. Biol. Bull. 121, 117–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dorsett, D.A. 1962. Preparation for flight by hawk-moths. J. Exp. Biol. 39, 579–588.Google Scholar
  13. Dreisig, H. 1980. Daily activity, thermoregulation and water loss in the tiger beetle, Cicindela Hybrida. Oecologia (Berl.) 44, 376–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Edney, E.B. 1971. The body temperature of tenebrionid beetles in the Namib Desert of southern Africa. J. Exp. Biol. 55, 253–272.Google Scholar
  15. Freudenstein, J. 1928. Das Herz und das Circulationssystem der Honigbiene (Apis mellifica L.). Zeitschr. Wiss. Zool. 132, 404–475.Google Scholar
  16. Hadley, N.F. 1970. Micrometeorology and energy exchange in two desert arthropods. Ecology 51, 547–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hamilton, W.J. III. 1971. Competition and thermoregulatory behavior of the Namib desert tenebrionid beetle genus Cardiosis. Ecology 52, 810–822.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hanegan, J.L. 1973. Control of heart rate in cecropia moths; response to thermal stimulation. J. Exp. Biol. 59, 67–76.Google Scholar
  19. Hanegan, J.L. and Heath, J.E. 1970. Temperature dependence of the neural control of the moth flight system. J. Exp. Biol. 53, 629–639.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Heinrich, B. 1970a. Thoracic temperature stabilization by blood circulation in a free-flying moth. Science 168, 580–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Heinrich, B. 1970b. Nervous control of the heart during thoracic temperature regulation in a sphinx moth. Science 169, 606–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heinrich, B. 1971a. Temperature regulation of the shpinx moth, Manduca sexta. I. Flight energetics and body temperature during free and tethered flight. J. Exp. Biol. 54, 141–152.Google Scholar
  23. Heinrich, B. 1971b. Temperature regulation of the sphinx moth, Manduca sexta. II. Regulation of heat loss by control of blood circulation. J. Exp. Biol. 54, 153–166.Google Scholar
  24. Heinrich, B. 1972a. Thoracic temperature of butterflies in the field near the equator. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 43A, 459–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heinrich, B. 1975. Thermoregulation in bumblebees. U. Energetics of warm-up and free flight. J. Comp. Physiol. 96, 155–166.Google Scholar
  26. Heinrich, B. 1976. Heat exchange in relation to blood flow between thorax and abdomen in bumblebees. J. Exp. Biol. 64, 561–585.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Heinrich, B. 1977. Why have some animals evolved to regulate a high body temperature? Am. Natur. 111, 623–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Heinrich, B. 1979a. Keeping a cool head: Thermoregulation in honeybees. Science 205, 1269–1271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Heinrich, B. 1979b. Thermoregulation of African and European honeybees during foraging, attack, and hive exits and returns. J. Exp. Biol. 80, 217–229.Google Scholar
  30. Heinrich, B. 1980a. Mechanisms of body temperature regulation in honeybees, Apis mellifera. I. Regulation of head temperature. J. Exp. Biol. 85, 61–72.Google Scholar
  31. Heinrich, B. 1980b. Mechanisms of body temperature regulation in honeybees, Apis mellifera. II. Regulation of thoracic temper-ature at high air temperature. J. Exp. Biol. 85, 73–87.Google Scholar
  32. Heinrich, B. 1981. Insect Thermoregulation, (B. Heinrich, ed.), Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  33. Heinrich, B. and Bartholomew, G.A. 1979. Roles of endothermy and size in inter-and intraspecific competition for elephant dung in an African dung beetle, Scarabaeus laevistriatus. Physiol. Zool. 52, 484–496.Google Scholar
  34. Heinrich, B. and Casey, T.M. 1973. Metabolic rate and endothermy in sphinx moths. J. Comp. Phys. 82, 195–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Heinrich, B. and Casey, T.M. 1978. Heat transfer in dragonflies: ‘fliers’ and ‘perchers’. J. Exp. Biol. 74, 17–36.Google Scholar
  36. Henwood, K. 1975. A field-tested thermoregulation model for two diurnal Namib desert tenebrionid beetles. Ecology 56, 1329–1342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hocking, B. 1953. The intrinsic range and speed of flight of insects. Royal Ent. Soc. London (Trans.) 104, 223–345.Google Scholar
  38. Holm, E. and Edney, E.B. 1973. Daily activity of Namib Desert arthropods in relation to climate. Ecology 54, 45–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ishay, J. 1973. Thermoregulation by social wasps: Behavior and pheromones. Trans. New York Acad. Sci. 35, 447–462.Google Scholar
  40. Josephson, R.K. 1981. “Temperature and the mechanical performance of insect muscle,” in: Insect Thermoregulation, (B. Heinrich, ed.), Wiley, New York (19–44).Google Scholar
  41. Kammer, A.E. 1981. Physiological mechanisms of insect thermoregulation. in: Insect Thermoregulation, (B. Heinrich, ed.), Wiley, New York (115–158).Google Scholar
  42. Kammer, A.E. and Heinrich, B. 1978. Insect flight metabolism. in: Advances in Insect Physiology, (J.W.L. Beament, J.E. Treheine and V.B. Wigglesworth, eds.), 13, 133–278.Google Scholar
  43. Krogh, A. and Zeuthen, E. 1941. The mechanism of flight preparation in some insects. J. Exp. Biol. 18, 1–10.Google Scholar
  44. Lauck, D.R. 1959. The locomotion of Lethocerus (Hemiptera, Belastomatidae). Ann. Ent. Soc. Am. 52, 93–99.Google Scholar
  45. Leston, D., Pringle, J.W.S. and White, D.C.S. 1965. Muscular activity during preparation for flight in a beetle. J. Exp. Biol. 42, 409–414.Google Scholar
  46. May, M.L. 1976. Thermoregulation and adaptation to temperature in dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera). Ecol. Monogr. 46, 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Shapley, H. 1920. Thermokinetics of Liometopum apiculatum Mayr. Proc. N.A.S. 6, 204–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Shapley, H. 1924. Note on the thermokinetics of Dolichoderine ants. Proc. N.A.S. 10, 438–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Weis-Fogh, T. 1972. Energetics of hovering flight in hummingbirds and in Drosophila. J. Exp. Biol. 56, 79–104.Google Scholar
  50. Wille, A. 1958. A comparative study of the dorsal vessel of bees. Ann. Ent. Soc. Am. 51, 538–546.Google Scholar
  51. Wilson, D.M. 1962. Bifunctional muscles in the thorax of grasshoppers. J. Exp. Biol. 39, 669–677.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernd Heinrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of VermontBurlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations