Flower-visiting insects are good models to study the use of visual information in a larger context. We use bees, moths and butterflies as model species to study sensory ecology. Flower-visitors express innate preferences for flower features such as odour, shape and colour, and have good learning abilities.
1. The European hummingbird hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum, in contrast to most hawkmoths, is diurnal. It has the longest proboscis of all diurnal flower-visitors in Europe and lays eggs and sucks nectar while “on the wing”. We use this species as model to study innate preferences of naïve insects, learning and memory, colour vision and multisensory integration. Almut Kelber and Joaquin Goyret
2. Diurnal butterflies depend more on vision, whereas nocturnal moths rely more on olfactory information. However, nocturnal hawkmoths can use colour vision in dim light, and diurnal species can learn odours. We study how butterflies use colour to find flowers, and how their receptors are adapted to their ecological needs. Almut Kelber and Miriam Henze
3. Bees and wasps learn the position of their nests during visually guided orientation flights. The stored information allows the bees to find their way home after foraging trips. We study the behaviour and ecology of diurnal and nocturnal bees and wasps, with the goal to understand the adaptations and consequences of diurnal and nocturnal lifestyles. Marie Dacke, Emily Baird, Eric Warrant and Almut Kelber