||The roles of visual parallax and edge attraction in the foraging behaviour of the butterfly Papilio xuthus.
The roles of visual parallax and edge attraction in the foraging behaviour of the butterfly Papilio xuthus.
FINLAY, Stewart ,
KINOSHITA, MichiyoARIKAWA, Kentaro
The Journal of experimental biology = The Journal of experimental biology
1732 , 2015-06-01 , The Company of Biologists Ltd / Cambridge
Several examples of insects using visual motion to measure distance have been documented, from locusts peering to gauge the proximity of prey, to honeybees performing visual odometry en route between the hive and a flower patch. However, whether the use of parallax information is confined to specialised behaviours like these or represents a more general purpose sensory capability, is an open question. We investigate this issue in the foraging swallowtail butterfly Papilio xuthus, which we trained to associate a target presented on a monitor with a food reward. We then tracked the animal's flight in real-time, allowing us to manipulate the size and/or position of the target in a closed-loop manner to create the illusion that it is situated either above or below the monitor surface. Butterflies are less attracted to (i.e. slower to approach) targets that appear, based on motion parallax, to be more distant. Furthermore, we found that the number of abortive descent manoeuvres performed prior to the first successful target approach varies according to the depth of the virtual target, with expansion and parallax cues having effects of opposing polarity. However, we found no evidence that Papilio modulate the kinematic parameters of their descents according to the apparent distance of the target. Thus, we argue that motion parallax is used to identify a proximal target object, but that the subsequent process of approaching it is based on stabilising its edge in the 2D space of the retina, without estimating its distance.