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Published April 11, 2014 | public
Journal Article Open

Flies Evade Looming Targets by Executing Rapid Visually Directed Banked Turns


Avoiding predators is an essential behavior in which animals must quickly transform sensory cues into evasive actions. Sensory reflexes are particularly fast in flying insects such as flies, but the means by which they evade aerial predators is not known. Using high-speed videography and automated tracking of flies in combination with aerodynamic measurements on flapping robots, we show that flying flies react to looming stimuli with directed banked turns. The maneuver consists of a rapid body rotation followed immediately by an active counter-rotation and is enacted by remarkably subtle changes in wing motion. These evasive maneuvers of flies are substantially faster than steering maneuvers measured previously and indicate the existence of sensory-motor circuitry that can reorient the fly's flight path within a few wingbeats.

Additional Information

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. 25 November 2013; accepted 11 March 2014. This work was supported by grants from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-10-1-0368) to M.H.D., the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to M.H.D., Army Research Laboratory (DAAD 19-03-D-0004) to M.H.D., Swedish Research Council to F.T.M., and the Royal Physiographical Society in Lund to F.T.M. We thank S. Safarik, X. Zabala, and J. Liu for their technical support, and B. van Oudheusden for co-supervising J.M.M. The data reported in this paper are tabulated in the supplementary materials: The body and wing kinematics data for all reported flight sequences, as well as forces and torques from the robotic fly experiments, are stored in Database S1, and the Fourier series coefficients required to reconstruct the here analyzed wingbeat kinematics (using eq. S1) are available in table S1.

Attached Files

Supplemental Material - 1248955s1.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s1.zip

Supplemental Material - 1248955s10.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s11.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s2.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s3.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s4.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s5.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s6.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s7.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s8.mp4

Supplemental Material - 1248955s9.mp4

Supplemental Material - Muijres_SM.pdf


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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023