Researchers at the National Science Foundation and Air Force Office of Scientific Research have concluded that hawk moths slow down their nervous system to improve night vision, after carrying out various tests and experiments. This night vision strategy enables moths to spot flowers in the dark and pollinate them.
The flying tactics of the hawk moths have triggered scientists’ attention a long time ago as the science community is now trying to improve drone technology based on the information they can collect from species of animals and insects. Their recent findings suggest that hawk moths slow down their nervous system to improve night vision and to spot objects in the dark.
The experiment was conducted with the help of a white plastic flower and a hawk moth. Researchers used different speed rates to horizontally move the plastic flower. They have also set three different light environments to determine whether the moth had the same reactions at all times or not.
Results have shown that hawk moths will slow the activity of their brains in order to keep up with the movements of the flower. The drop in speed rates was mainly caused by moths’ intentions to perfect their night vision.
Experts have obtained different brain activity levels during the three light scenarios, which has enabled them to conclude that moths consider light conditions when calculating their flight tactics. The insects also slowed down their wingbeats per second rate as the nervous system became less active.
However, the lag was not too noticeable. The difference became truly visible when the hawk moths were placed in front of a fast moving plastic flower.
The research group was very pleased with the results they have obtained during the experiment. They have thus, confirmed all their previous hypotheses in relation to the tactics that hawk moths use to remain active at night and they have also managed to collect new useful information.
Experts have concluded that the data they have recently collected will most likely be used to perfect the night vision mode of robot drones. Similar endeavors have been carried through in the past as researchers wanted to identify the methods that these insects use to avoid tree obstacles at night.
Based on researchers’ findings, moths calculate their trajectory about 1km ahead in good light conditions. If vision gets hindered, hawk moths either fly in large circles or spread their inferior members to slow down the speed and thus, avoid possible obstacles.
The findings of the recent study will be published in the journal of Science.
Image Source: Smithsonianmag.com