Tegulae are complex proprioceptors at the wing base of locusts. Deafferentation of the tegulae causes a lack of specific phasic information related to the wing downstroke and the timing of the upstroke. Employing telemetry during free flight of the locust Schistocerca gregaria, we investigated the consequences of tegula ablation on free flight parameters including motor patterns (wingbeat frequency and the relationship between the activation of flight muscle antagonists), free flight speed and aerodynamic output. We investigated the role of the tegula pairs of both wings on the motor pattern generated in free-flying locusts. We show that the tegula organs are not essential for generating the motor patterns necessary for free flight. However, they are required for increasing the motor output to give additional effective lifting power during adaptive behaviour. We also investigated long-term changes in the free flight parameters after tegula ablation. The recovery of the adult flight system revealed in the present study suggests that there is adaptation to the loss of proprioceptive information; this argues for a full functional and behavioural recovery of the flight system of the locust under closed-loop conditions.

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