Calliphora vicina

Insect 3d tracking system at Bioforsk

Wednesday, 15 June, 2011

In northern Norway, pest species such as the blowfly (Calliphora vicina) cause great economic losses in the fish industry. These insects lay their eggs in high quality stockfish which is hung out to dry in the open air. Researchers at Bioforsk (a governmental institution that, among other things, operates a biological pest control facility) aim to find methods to prevent this devastation, starting with the study of the behavior of blowflies. By understanding how they locate their target and which visual and olfactory stimuli they use, a first step is made towards creating methods to prevent damages to the stockfish industry.

To accomplish their goals, Bioforsk requires the best technology available today, and so they have called on Noldus to design and build a custom Track3D system. The wind tunnel they use is quite large (200 x 60 x 90 cm) relative to the size of the insects (about 1 cm), presenting a challenge: finding a lens that would capture an accurate, distortion-free video image of suchsmall animals in such a large wind tunnel. Also, a special calibration frame had to be designed. Another obstacle was lighting; while accurate tracking requires good contrast – meaning background lighting of the animals – the insects require lighting from above to perform orientating behavior.

Recently all these challenges were overcome, providing Bioforsk with a state-of-the-art Track3D system. This system makes use of some of the most advanced Noldus software applications, Media Recorder and EthoVision XT.

Read more about this Track3D project here, or more about Track3D and other custom solutions here.

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