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J Insect Physiol. 2001 Sep;47(10):1111-1118.

How drone flies (Eristalis tenax L., Syrphidae, Diptera) use floral guides to locate food sources.

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  • 1Institut für Neurobiologie, AG Zoologie und Didaktik der Biologie, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Universitätsstrasse 1, D-40225, Düsseldorf, Germany


In this study we show how inexperienced syrphid flies, Eristalis tenax, orient on artificial flowers by means of floral guides. To test the effect of floral guides such as line and ring markings on the probability and speed of the location of a potential food source, we exploited the spontaneous proboscis reaction triggered by yellow colour stimuli. We tested whether and how fast the flies, when placed on the edge of a circular dummy flower, found a small central yellow spot and touched it with the proboscis extended. The flies found the central yellow spot more often and faster if guide lines from the margin to the yellow spot were present. The effect of guide lines was dependent on the colour of the dummy flower, and independent of the colour of the guide lines, except for yellow guide lines releasing the proboscis reaction. The effect of guide lines was stronger if the yellow spot was hidden in a 2 mm deep depression and thus not as easily visible to the flies. Ring guides had a significant effect on performance only when the intensity of the central yellow spot was low.

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