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Visual ecology of flower-visiting insects

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.

  • 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 how spatial and temporal resolution, colour vision and the absolute sensitivity are adapted to their diurnal and nocturnal lifestyles.
  • In contrast to most other hawkmoths, the European hummingbird hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum is diurnal. With the longest proboscis of all diurnal flower-visitors in Europé, it sucks nectar while “on the wing”. We use this species as model to study innate preferences of naïve insects, colour vision, learning and memory, cognitive abilities and multisensory integration.
  • Butterflies also use their eyes to find mates and lay eggs on a substrate that will feed the offspring. We want to understand how their visual system and behaviour are adapted to these different visual tasks: finding flowers, chooseg the best spot to find mates, and the optimal site to lay their eggs.
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