Pheromone Source Location by Flying Moths: A Supplementary Non-Anemotactic Mechanism

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  23 Apr 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4544, pp. 424-427
DOI: 10.1126/science.216.4544.424


After the wind was stopped in an insect flight tunnel, male oriental fruit moths continued to fly in zigzag fashion along a stationary pheromone plume. Their lateral excursions from the time-averaged pheromone plume were no greater without wind than in wind of 38 centimeters per second. When the pheromone plume was removed and the wind stopped, males initiated wider track reversals when they reached the pheromone-free area in still air than they had made while in the pheromone plume. This non-anemotactic mechanism of maintaining plume contact—possibly a special kind of klinotaxis—when coupled with the orthokinetic retinal velocity of apparent ground pattern motion, allowed males to reach the pheromone source area from 1 to 2 meters away without wind.