Colour constancy in diurnal and nocturnal hawkmoths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Diurnal and nocturnal hawkmoths have been shown to use colour vision for flower discrimination. Here, we present evidence that the nocturnal hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor and the diurnal hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum also have colour constancy. Colour constancy was shown in D. elpenor in two multiple-choice experiments with five different bluish colour patches under white and blue illumination and with five yellowish colour patches under white, blue and yellow illumination. The mechanism underlying colour constancy in both species was investigated in two dual-choice experiments. The choice behaviour is consistent with the use of the von Kries coefficient law. Although the moths have colour constancy, they react to the colour of the illumination. They make fewer choices when tested under the changed illumination, where they never receive a reward, compared with the training illumination. Even if colour constancy can be explained by a von Kries adaptation mechanism, the fact that the animals discriminate between different illuminations indicates that some additional process must be involved.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology


  • colour constancy, colour vision, insect, hawkmoth, stellatarum, Macroglossum, Deilephila elpenor
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3307-3316
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch