Insect behavior is studied for a number of reasons. Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies) for example, have a fairly similar genetic makeup to our human genome and they are easily manipulated to create genetically different strains. For neuroscientific studies, this makes them a really good model to learn about the effects of genes on behavior.
The behavior of pest insects or insects that transfer diseases is also of great interest in developing pesticides and other ways to prevent disease transfer, such as studies that are done on effective ways to repel the malaria mosquito.
Video tracking insects
The majority of behavioral insect studies focus on general locomotor behavior. Assessing movement-based parameters like speed, angle, position, distance moved, and mobility is easily done with EthoVision XT video tracking, and delivers a wealth of data. Researchers use video tracking to assess foraging behavior, circadian rhythmicity, courtship behavior, and thigmotaxis (wall-hugging). While most of these experiments are done with adult flies, fly larvae behavior is also of interest. At just a couple of days old (e.g. <6) these larvae are active enough for tracking and are especially popular in research on smell and eating behavior.
Tracking in 3 dimensions
Some studies with insects even track in 3 dimensions, acquiring much more accurate flight patterns. This is a popular method for studies with malaria mosquitos (Anopheles gambiae). Many mosquitos are resistant to currently used repellants, and bed nets aren’t always effective either. To protect people from malaria, researchers have turned to assessing mosquito behavior (flight patterns, landing sites, ability to find holes in bed nets), using wind tunnels and EthoVision XT video tracking. Track3D is then used for 3D path construction and analysis.