Scientists have released a fascinating video that recreates the world through the eyes of a wasp.
Ground wasps have long been observed taking a strange path in the air before they fly away from their nest. According to a Live Science report, researchers have recreated this odd trajectory in a fascinating new video from the wasp’s own perspective.
Scientists refer to these dizzying patterns as “learning flights.” The solitary insects perform these flights as soon as they leave their nest and also when they return with stunning accuracy. Researchers believe that the wasps do this in order to memorize the route back home after venturing out. The big question, however, was how they accomplished this.
It took researchers 10 years, but they finally came up with an explanation. They found that solitary ground wasps’ learning flights are actually very carefully executed, and follow a pattern similar to that of a long list of other insects with similar behaviors.
According to the study’s co-author Jochen Zeil, an ecological neuroscientist at the Australian National University, “They back away from the nest in a series of widening arcs, pivoting around the nest while looking back. While flying along these arcs, the insects see the nest environment from different directions and distances, and always keep the nest in their left or right visual field.”
Researchers used high-speed cameras to film the wasps’ learning flights in an effort to see what the wasps were actually seeing in flight. Using panoramic 3D imaging software, they created a digital map of the wasp’s position and paths of sight while in the air. They were able to recreate the wasp’s trajectory from the insect’s perspective, showing what the wasp sees as it flies its erratic path around its nest.
Scientists were able to predict the paths of wasp flights after they created their virtual environment. The study offers new insights into how insects perceive the world around them, and could lead to a deeper understanding of learning flight behavior.
A Cell press release describing the details of the recent study can be found here.