The LA Times has an interesting robotics story today:

“As the moth tracks the world around it, an electrode in its tiny brain captures faint electrical impulses that a computer translates into action.
The moth, immobilized inside a plastic tube, was mounted on a 6-inch-tall wheeled robot. When the moth moved its eyes to the right, the robot turned in that direction….

Interesting, although moths don’t have eyeballs, so I’m not sure what they mean about the moth “moving its eyes.” Unfortunately, all my Sphingid moths are packed away in a closet, and quite dead and stiff, so I can’t check to see if their compound eyes actually can be moved. Anyone have a live adult on hand that can tell me if this just oversimplification on the author’s part? It seems very…wrong.

This part of the article made me laugh:

“Higgins chose the tobacco hornworm moth for the latest experiment in part because the University of Arizona maintains a colony for research purposes. “When you’re doing research, it helps that you don’t have to catch your insects,” he said. “

If only I had clued in on this in graduate school….

[image via McGun]

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. As it happens, I have a surplus of live adult moths. Unfortunately, they’re a little on the small side, and I don’t have a microscope. But you’re welcome to come to my house and capture them, as long as you promise to take all of them. :D

  2. I don’t have any sphingids, but we have some saturniids in our butterfly exhibit, so I checked. The compound eyes are fused to the head capsule. When I have noticed leps looking around they do so by swiveling their entire heads. Perhaps that’s what they meant? I agree, it just seems wrong.

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