Cage size and flight speed of the tobacco hawkmoth Manduca sexta

Stevenson, Corbo, Baca, Le
1995 Journal of Experimental Biology  
Flight speeds and behaviors of the sphinx moth Manduca sexta were recorded in chambers of four different sizes (0.57, 8.5, 44 and 447 m3). Mean horizontal speed increased linearly with the cube root of chamber volume from 0.57 m s-1 in the smallest chamber to 3.4 m s-1 in the largest. The maximum horizontal speed observed was 5.3 m s-1 in the largest chamber. Speeds decreased linearly with the logarithm of hawkmoth proximity to the wall. In a tunnel chamber (the third largest), moths often flew
more » ... in a scalloped-shaped path. At the top of the scallop, they glided for 1­5 wing beats. In the largest chamber, moths could be recorded flying at angles other than horizontal (0 °). At flight angles greater or less than 0 °, mean speed decreased linearly with angle until ±40 °. At greater angles, speeds remained between 1 and 2 m s-1. Moths also flew closer to the wall at flight angles deviating from the horizontal. An allometric analysis of the flight speeds of insects and birds suggests that M. sexta may be able to fly at 7­10 m s-1. We conclude that chamber size limits the flight speed and modifies the flight behavior of the tobacco hawkmoth.
pmid:9319572 fatcat:ui33w3bwb5atlakds54vyxd7wi