A recording from the ventral nerve cord of a hoverfly being shown the 3D clutter stimulus Richard has developed. You can hear the firing of action potentials generated by an optic flow neuron in response to the anti-clockwise roll of the clutter.
Malin's beautiful hoverfly flower interaction paper is now out in JEB. Well done!
By Malin: Last week our collaborator Shannon, my mother and I took a trip to a local farm to collect larvae for our research. It's still rather early in the season in Sweden so larval numbers were not as high as we had hoped. Still 4 hours later we hope Shannon got what she needed and I'll return sometime later in May or June to restock.
Our hoverfly rearing paper is now out. Thanks Sarah, Malin, Marissa and James for your hard work!
By Marissa - Whilst these fuzzy critters may not be the pollinators our lab usually shows interest in, I can’t help but bring attention to one of the internets latest obsessions… bumble bee butts!!
Facebook and Twitter have been exploding the past few weeks with these adorable pictures. It would have been great to see a hoverfly in the mix - but unfortunately (classic of their name) they hover above their meals making it very unlikely to find an Eristalis butt poking out of a flower.
Images sourced from: https://imgur.com/gallery/NlfZUWx
Like birds, flying insects can undertake long distance annual migrations. Insects can travel at high altitudes to their destinations, both by using the wind currents and also actively flying towards their target (Lundmark 2010). They can also travel at high speeds (up to 100 kilometres/hour), and cover vast distances in only a few days (Lundmark 2010). In Oslo, Norway, a “bee highway” is being developed by strategically planting bee attracting plants, to help bees travel through the city towards nectar rich habitats (Blakemore 2015). The migration of insects can be observed by radar pointing towards the sky (Witze 2018). Migratory birds travel annually through a narrow Swiss alpine pass known as the Col de Bretolet. Bird migrations through this mountain pass have been studied for decades by scientists (Witze 2018). Millions of flying insects such as moths and flies also migrate though this pass every year, and now their migration patterns are also being studied (Witze 2018).
Observations of hoverfly migrations show that they can travel more than 100 kilometres per day (Witze 2018). Marmalade Hoverflies or Episyrphus balteatus, migrate from Northern Europe to Southern Europe, before returning to Northern Europe each year (Witze 2018). Adult hoverflies pollinate flowers, whilst larvae eat pest insects such as aphids (Witze 2018). However, their migration is typically only noticeable when they are funnelled through the narrow opening of mountain passes (Witze 2018). Additionally, an increase in rainfall leads to an increase in plant and weed growth, which increases populations of pest insects such as aphids (which stunt plant growth), and their predators, such as hoverfly larvae (of which there are around 6000 species), lacewing larvae and ladybirds (lessard and Yeates 2016).
Lundmark, C. (2010) Long Distance Insect Migration. Bioscience, vol. 60, no. 5, pg. 400. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/60/5/400/238148
Blakemore, E. (2015). Norway is Building a Highway for Bees, Smithsonian.com, viewed 10th May 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/norway-has-highway-bees-180955703/
Witze, A (2018) Flying insects tell tales of long-distance migrations, ScienceNews, Vol 193, No. 7, p. 22. Available from: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/flying-insects-tell-tales-long-distance-migrations
Lessard B and Yeates, D (2016) From Warm to Swarm: why insect activity increases in summer, Australian Geographic, viewed 11th May 2018, available from: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2016/12/experts-predict-increased-insect-activity-this-summer
- By Richard
Q: Why did the fly fly?
A: Because the spider spied ‘er.
The above, recognized as a lame dad joke by even my three-year-old boy, is apparently the origin of the name of our stimulus software system FlyFly. Combined with our data acquisition system SampSamp, it inspired Alex Oo while working in our lab to call his new spike clustering program ClusClus, “just to fit in with our naming convention”.
It would seem FlyFly is a pretty safe bet as a unique name for a software program, but a little idle curiosity led me to Google, in order to find out whether anything else shares the name. This revealed that FlyFly is also the name of: a travel agency in Serbia, a Chinese company specializing in manufacturing replica aeroplanes, an awesome snazzy lamp designed in Milan, a mysterious 3-minute short film from Canada, and a nice holiday apartment in Bosnia!
Just goes to show the variety of uses that can be made from a simple reduplication…
The hoverfly vision group can be found at 2 locations: At Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, and at Uppsala University in Sweden. To find out more about us and our research, browse through the pages.