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Virgin male moths think they're hot when they're not
Date:6/7/2012

asures temperatures recorded the moths as they began their shivering warm-up and finally took off. The moths are seen in infrared turning from cooler purple-blue to warmer orange and even warmer red and yellow.

By analyzing the video after each of dozens of experiments, Crespo measured how long it took inactive moths to start shivering after smelling the odor, and how long they spent shivering until takeoff. The infrared video, one frame before takeoff, showed the temperature of the moth's thorax at takeoff (the wings and all related muscles are in the insect's thorax, the body section between the head and abdomen). Crespo also calculated the rate at which the moths warmed up.

Moths that did not smell pheromone flew in random directions when they finally warmed up. Moths that smelled the pheromone blend (and often the primary component alone) started shivering faster, took off sooner (less time shivering), did so at a lower temperature than other moths, and flew toward the odor.

Quicker Takeoff, Less Powerful Flight

Until now, researchers thought the moths simply warmed up as fast as they can. "These guys don't all heat up at the same rate," Vickers says. "The guys exposed to the pheromone odor, go 'Wow!' and they warm up faster and take off more quickly. And that compromises the flight power they can produce."

Crespo conducted a second set of experiments that showed cooler temperatures mean less vertical flight power or force.

In these experiments, wax was used to gently attach (not stick) an entomological pin to a moth's thorax. The other end of the pin was attached to a force sensor, which in turn was wired to various electronics to read the results. A small Styrofoam ball was placed under the moth, which reflexively grabbed onto it with its legs. When Crespo gently pulled away the ball, the moth reflexively tried to fly upward, and the force of that effort was recorded. White and black lights to whic
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Contact: Lee Siegel
lee.siegel@utah.edu
801-581-8993
University of Utah
Source:Eurekalert  

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