Invertebrae Biology Practical 6 Insect Behaviour

1. For what reason were the flies placed in a refrigerator before use?

2. From your results what correlation appears to exist between the different kinds of blowfly activity and temperature? Suggest possible reasons.

3. How would you classify the type of behaviour displayed by the flies in this experiment?

4. What was the purpose of the control in this experiment?

5. What conclusions can you draw as a possible relationship between behaviour and physiological processes in this example?

Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity and light influence insect growth and development, but also insect behaviour. Hence, environmental stimuli often cause specific behaviours. This practical examines some of these effects.

Insects are poikilothermic organisms, which means their internal temperature is generally similar to their surroundings.



To measure the activity of a sample of Queensland fruit fly at a series of temperatures from 5C to 45C. Four different types of activity are to be considered:

1. Fidgeting – when a fly may move its head, clean itself, but not change its position

2. Walking, and

3. Flying

4. Inactive


1. Flies have been placed in a refrigerator for several hours before use.

2. Each group collects 10 flies.

3. Tightly plug the opening with cotton wool, allowing a thermometer to fit through it. Place the bottle in a beaker of ice water until the temperature is 5 degrees celcius

4. Introduce ten undamaged flies into the bottle and replace cotton wool and thermometer. Leave flies 5 minutes to adjust to the temperature.

5. Count the number of flies engaged in each type of activity mentioned before, and those that are inactive. Repeat the count again after 10 seconds and continue doing this until 10 counts have been made (i.e. 100 individual readings). Record all counts in a table that has been prepared previously.

6. Slow raise the temperature of the water in the beaker to 10C. Allow 5 minutes to adjust to the new temperature. Make counts as before.

7. Continue increasing the temperature by 5 degree intervals until it reaches 50C, always allowing the apparatus to stand 5 minutes after the new temperature has been reached.

8. A control experiment should be set up at the same time. It consists of a bottle set up in the same manner as that used in the experiment, containing ten flies kept at room temperature. The activities of flies should be observed at the same intervals of time as the observations for the experiment are made.

9. For the report: graph the results of all groups; plot the percentage of flies displaying each type of activity as the ordinate and the temperature as the abscissa. Draw separate curves on the same axes for each type of activity.

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