Flight simulator experiments
To unravel the mechanisms in which the butterflies use celestial and landmark cues, we use modified Mouritson-Frost-flight simulators. At the inner surface, the flight simulators are equipped with LEDs which allow to present a variety of cues to the butterflies. The animals are tethered to a mounting rod at the center of the flight simulator. This allows them to freely set a desired compass direction with respect to a visual scene.
We also use outdoor flight arenas that allow testing the butterflies under the real sky in Würzburg (non-migrating species) or in their natural habitat in North America (migrating species).
A monarch butterfly in a flight simulator, the green LED was turned by 180° (movie: M. Franzke).