This is my experimental animal - Manduca sexta, the tobacco hornworm moth. Manduca is a member of the sphingid family of moths, and a major pest on tobacco, tomatoes, and other nightshades, and quite common in the United States. Manduca is active shortly after dusk, and into the night.
Manduca showing its typical feeding behavior on a primrose. Sphingids hover in front of flowers like hummingbirds, extending their proboscis to collect honey.
In my PhD thesis I worked with a close European relative, Macroglossum stellatarum. Some nice information and a video of the feeding behavior is here. A highspeed video can be found here.
(for more pictures of Sphingids click picture).
I am interested in higher order motion vision, specifically in the control of hovering flight in Sphingids. Sphingids are the family of moths that includes Manduca sexta, the tobacco hornworm, a well known pet animal expecially of developmental biologists, and biochemists. During my PhD in D. Varju's lab in Tübingen I studied motion sensitive neurons in the European Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum (Wicklein and Varju 1999 in press, Wicklein submitted). My postdoc days in N. Strausfeld's group have been devoted to continuing and expanding this work in Manduca (Wicklein and Strausfeld, in prep a, b, c; Wicklein and Willis, in prep).
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