Two pursuit strategies for a single sensorimotor control task in blowfly

  • Varennes Leandre
  • Krapp Holger
  • Viollet Stéphane


Effective visuomotor coordination is a necessary requirement for the survival of many terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial animal species. We studied the kinematics of aerial pursuit in the blowfly Lucilia sericata using an actuated dummy as target for freely flying males. We found that the flies perform target tracking in the horizontal plane and target interception in the vertical plane. Our behavioural data suggest that the flies' trajectory changes are a controlled combination of target heading angle and of the rate of change of the bearing angle. We implemented control laws in kinematic models and found that the contributions of proportional navigation strategy are negligible. We concluded that the difference between horizontal and vertical control relates to the difference in target heading angle the fly keeps constant: 0° in azimuth and 23° in elevation. Our work suggests that male Lucilia control both horizontal and vertical steerings by employing proportional controllers to the error angles. In horizontal plane, this controller operates at time delays as small as 10 ms, the fastest steering response observed in any flying animal, so far.