Robotic flowers show how moths see at night

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As many of us head home for the day some animals are just getting their day started.

Sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds,hungry hawkmths hover in mid-air sipping nectar from flowers, pollinatingthem in return.

These agile insects maneuvertheir way around flowers that sway in the wind.

Often, with little light to see by.

To test how one species of hawkmoth called the tobacco hornworm keeps upwith its moving flower targets, researchers created robotic flowers.

There's been a lot of curiosity about how animals are able to adjust their visual systems in order tobe able to see at low light levels.

The hawkmoths didn't seem to mind that the flowers were fake.

As long as they got their sweet sugarysnack.

The researchers tested how well the moths track the movement of the flowers under two lighting conditions: early dusk and much darker moonlight.

When the flowers swayedback and forth no more than twice per second, the mothskept up just fine — regardless of lighting.

Any faster and they started making mistakesespecially in the dimmest light which also caused them to lag wellbehind the flowers.

The researchers think the moths' visualsystem slows down in dim light to boost their visual acuity, much like the shutter of a camera.

That works fine as long as an object is moving slowly but speed things up images start to blur.

So cameras and moth eyes can't keep up.

But this may not actually matter in the wild.

The researchers also found that the kinds offlowers these hawkmoths prefer naturally sway in the wind, no faster than the insect's visual system can handle.

It's possible plant and pollinator have co-evolved to bewell matched for each other as the light fades.

Source: Youtube