Fruit flies use skylight to stay on course

Fruit flies have been found to keep their bearings by using the polarisation pattern of natural skylight. The finding bolsters the belief that many, if not all, insects have that capability.

Insects such as monarch butterflies and locusts maintain a constant heading while migrating thousands of miles across continents, while bees and ants hunting for food successfully find their way tens of metres back to the nest without a problem.

Demonstrating that fruit flies can navigate using cues from natural skylight makes it easier to use genetics research to better understand this complex capability and exactly how it is implemented in the brain.

Read more at University of Washington