Flight behavior of the rhinoceros beetle Trypoxylus dichotomus during electrical nerve stimulation

Tien Van Truong, Doyoung Byun, Laura Corley Lavine, Douglas J. Emlen, Hoon Cheol Park, Min Jun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Neuronal stimulation is an intricate part of understanding insect flight behavior and control insect itself. In this study, we investigated the effects of electrical pulses applied to the brain and basalar muscle of the rhinoceros beetle (Trypoxylus dichotomus). To understand specific neuronal stimulation mechanisms, responses and flight behavior of the beetle, four electrodes were implanted into the two optic lobes, the brain's central complex and the ventral nerve cord in the posterior pronotum. We demonstrated flight initiation, turning and cessation by stimulating the brain. The change undergone by the wing flapping in response to the electrical signal was analyzed from a sequence of images captured by a high-speed camera. Here, we provide evidence to distinguish the important differences between neuronal and muscular flight stimulations in beetles. We found that in the neural potential stimulation, both the hind wing and the elytron were suppressed. Interestingly, the beetle stopped flying whenever a stimulus potential was applied between the pronotum and one side of the optic lobe, or between the ventral nerve cord in the posterior pronotum and the central complex. In-depth experimentation demonstrated the effective of neural stimulation over muscle stimulation for flight control. During electrical stimulation of the optic lobes, the beetle performed unstable flight, resulting in alternating left and right turns. By applying the electrical signal into both the optic lobes and the central complex of the brain, we could precisely control the direction of the beetle flight. This work provides an insight into insect flight behavior for future development of insect-micro air vehicle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036021
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


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