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  • David Dreyer
    Lund University
  • Basil el Hundi
    University of Würzburg
  • Dmitry Kishkinev
  • Carina Suchentrunk
    Biological station Neusiedler-See (Illmitz)
  • Lena Campostrini
    Biological station Neusiedler-See (Illmitz)
  • Barrie Frost
    Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
  • Thomas Zechmeister
    Biological station Neusiedler-See (Illmitz)
  • Eric Warrant
    Lund University
Insect migrations are spectacular natural events and resemble a remarkable relocation of biomass between two locations in space. Unlike the well-known migrations of daytime flying butterflies, such as the Painted lady (Vanessa cardui) or the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), much less widely known are the migrations of nocturnal moths. These migrations – typically involving billions of moths from different taxa – have recently attracted considerable scientific attention. Nocturnal moth migrations have traditionally been investigated by trapping and by observations in the wild, but in recent times a considerable improvement in our understanding of this phenomenon has come from studying insect movements using vertical looking radars. In order to establish a model organism to study compass mechanisms in migratory moths, we almost accidently encountered an extraordinarily directed flight performance in a Noctuid moth, the Red underwing (Catocala nupta) and revisited the migratory behaviour of the Large yellow underwing (Noctua pronuba). Interestingly, the orientation performance of the Large yellow underwing was impaired on humid nights. Both species performed flight behaviour under an unobscured view of the sky and a natural Earth's magnetic field. We found no evidence for a non time-compensated compass mechanism as it was suggested previously.


  • insect migration, orientation, migratory moths, compass senses
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb179218
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2018
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