Locusts, Locusta migratoria, sitting on a plant stem hide from dark moving or expanding shapes in their environment. The fore- and middle legs perform this avoidance response by making lateral tilting movements, while the hindlegs slide laterally and guide rotation of the posterior body over the stem. During larger turns, the legs take lateral steps when lateral tilting is limited by the joints. Slow hiding movements of less than 300 degrees s-1 of angular velocity are induced by slowly changing (looming) shapes, and interposed stops or slowing of the movement can delay the progress of this hiding manoeuvre. Fast hiding movements with angular velocities between 120 degrees s-1 and 860 degrees s-1 proceed continuously and rapidly in response to rapidly expanding stimuli. Hiding responses to expanding shapes occur only after the expanding image has exceeded a threshold visual angle of 8–9.5 degrees. Hiding response latencies range between 220 ms and 1.2 s for fast hiding and are approximately 1.2 s for most slow hiding responses. Predator-avoidance responses such as freezing, jerking, crouching, walking backwards, dropping or jumping can be used instead of or in conjunction with hiding behaviour. We conclude that the fast hiding behaviour of locusts is a specific goal-directed type of optomotor behaviour requiring positional information from small-field detectors of shape expansion in the interneurone layers of the locust eye.

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