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Letters to Nature
Nature 206, 1172 - 1173 (12 June 1965); doi:10.1038/2061172a0

Far Infra-red Emission and Detection by Night-flying Moths


Entomology Research Division, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Tifton, Georgia

I HAVE earlier postulated1,2 a completely new concept of the insect environment based on infra-red frequency transmission through infra-red atmospheric windows. This concept involves the utilization of such transmitted frequencies in the life cycle and behaviour of night-flying moths. I postulated that moths may locate their mates, chemical releasers (scents), and host plants by means of infra-red frequency detection and that the night-adapted eye of nocturnal moths shifts slowly from the short-wave visible spectrum of daylight to the longer and longer infra-red frequencies as it becomes night-adapted. When totally dark-adapted, it attains the configuration of a mosaic optic-electromagnetic thermal radiometer for night-time detection of infra-red frequencies. I further postulated that the antennal spines may be resonant cavities for infra-red detection. Laithwaite3 has postulated a similar theory for the assembling of moths. In testing the validity that a moth might locate its mate by thermal far infra-red, the following experiments were performed:

  1. Callahan, P. S. , paper read at the XII Int. Cong. Entomology, 1964 (in the press).
  2. Callahan, P. S. (in preparation).
  3. Laithwaite, E. R. , Entomologist, 93, 113, 133 (1960).

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