An Ocellar Dorsal Light Response in a Dragonfly
One of the functional roles suggested for the insect ocelli is their involvement in flight behaviour such as the maintenance of stability by monitoring movements of the animal relative to the horizon (Hesse, 1908). In a recent study on second order ocellar neurones in locusts, Wilson (1978) concluded from physiological and anatomi- cal considerations that this system is ideally suited 'to detect rapid movements of the whole visual field which represent instability in flight'. In fact, indirect behavioural evidence for this concept was provided by Mittelstaedt (1950), who observed that dragonflies with occluded ocelli go through a sequence of unstable flight attitudes and stalls when released in the presence of a single light source of small angular dimensions. We report here simple experiments which give direct evidence that the ocelli do function as equilibrium organs during flight.