Context dependency of in-flight responses by Manduca sexta moths to ambient differences in relative humidity

Michael S. Wolfin, Robert A. Raguso, Goggy Davidowitz, Joaquin Goyret

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The use of sensory information to control behavior usually involves the integration of sensory input from different modalities. This integration is affected by behavioral states and experience, and it is also sensitive to the spatiotemporal patterns of stimulation and other general contextual cues. Following the finding that hawkmoths can use relative humidity (RH) as a proxy for nectar content during close-range foraging, we evaluate here whether RH could be used during locomotive flight under two simulated contexts in a wind tunnel: (1) dispersion and (2) search phase of the foraging behavior. Flying moths showed a bias towards air with a higher RH in a context devoid of foraging stimuli, but the addition of visual and olfactory floral stimuli elicited foraging responses that overrode the behavioral effects of RH. We discuss the results in relation to the putative adaptive value of the context-dependent use of sensory information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjeb177774
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science

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