Comparing Drosophila suzukii flight behavior using free-flight and tethered flight assays

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Tethered flight mills and free-flight studies are two common approaches for examining insect flight behavior in the laboratory. Flight behavior studies are significant because they provide information with understanding dispersal and range expansion. Each approach has advantages and drawbacks and can influence the flight behavior of the study organism. However, tethered and untethered flight studies are rarely performed simultaneously to determine whether one technique is better suited for a particular species. Here, we conducted a tethered and untethered flight study to determine the limitations, benefits, and effects the two methods could have on assessing an insect's flight capacity. We focused the study on the global invasive pest, Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Propensity of flight and flight duration, distance, and velocity were examined for (1) females and males, and (2) summer and winter morphs, as the two morphs differ significantly in body and wing size. The study showed that summer morphs were more likely to fly when untethered than when tethered to a flight mill. Additionally, when comparing the length of time of flight for first take-off, D. suzukii flew longer when untethered. Outcomes from this study provide information on D. suzukii flight behavior, which could assist with future research on this economically important fruit pest that is rapidly expanding its range. The results also suggest that the flight apparatus can affect D. suzukii flight behaviors, such that future laboratory flight research should be considerate of the flight technique utilized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)973-981
Number of pages9
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative‐Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). We sincerely thank Dr. Robert Venette and two anonymous reviewers for reviewing early drafts of this manuscript and Matthew Gullickson for assistance with colony maintenance. D. suzukii

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Netherlands Entomological Society.


  • Diptera
  • Drosophila suzukii
  • Drosophilidae
  • comparative experiment
  • dispersal
  • flight chamber
  • flight mill
  • range expansion
  • spotted-wing drosophila
  • technique comparison


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparing Drosophila suzukii flight behavior using free-flight and tethered flight assays'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this