Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Colour perception of single and mixed monochromatic lights in the blowfly Lucilia cuprina

  • 104 Accesses

  • 17 Citations


Colour perception of spectral lights and mixtures of two monochromatic lights of blue and yellow wavelengths was studied in the blowfly Lucilia cuprina by using a generalization test in which the fly had to compare these lights in memory with coloured papers (blue, green, yellow and red) represented in the test array. Flies trained to a monochromatic light in the wavelength range of 429–491 nm responded to blue; those trained to 502–511 nm to green; and those trained to 522–582 nm to yellow. The maximal generalization for blue was found at 429 nm and that for yellow at 543 nm. Flies trained to the mixtures responded neither to blue, green nor yellow, when the blue component was mixed with the yellow component in a ratio of approximately 1 ∶ 3. It seems that the fly perceives the mixtures as a neutral or an achromatic light. Colour loci of coloured papers, spectral lights and mixtures of two monochromatic lights used formed blue, yellow and neutral clusters in a colour triangle with respect to generalization responses to test colours.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Autrum H, Burkhardt D (1961) Spectral sensitivity of single visual cells. Nature 190: 639

  2. Burkhardt D (1962) Spectral sensitivity and other response characterstics of single visual cells in the arthropod eye. Symp Soc ExpBiol 16: 86–109

  3. Daumer K (1956) Reizmetrische Untersuchung des Farbensehens der Bienen. Z Vergl Physiol 38: 413–478

  4. Franceschini N (1985) Early processing of colour and motion in a mosaic visual system. Neurosci Res [Suppl] 2: 17–49

  5. Franceschini N, Riehle A, Le Nestour A (1989) Directionally selective motion detection by insect neurons. In: Stavenga D, Hardie R (eds) Facets of vision. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 360–390

  6. Fukushi T (1976) Classical conditioning to visual stimuli in the housefly, Musca domestica. J Insect Physiol 22: 361–364

  7. Fukushi T (1985) Visual learning in walking blowflies, Lucilia cuprina. J Comp Physiol A 157: 771–778

  8. Fukushi T (1989) Learning and discrimination of coloured papers in the walking blowfly, Lucilia cuprina. J Comp Physiol A 166: 57–64

  9. Fukushi T (1990) Colour discrimination from various shades of grey in the trained blowfly, Lucilia cuprina. J Insect Physiol 36: 69–75

  10. Green CH, Flint S (1986) An analysis of colour effects in the performance of the F2 trap against Glossina pallidipes Austen and G. morsitans morsitans Westwood (Diptera: Glossinidae). Bull Entomol Res 76: 409–418

  11. Hardie RC (1984) Properties of photoreceptors R7 and R8 in the dorsal marginal ommatidia in the compound eyes of Musca and Calliphora. J Comp Physiol A 154: 157–165

  12. Hardie RC (1985) Functional organization of the fly retina. In: Ottoson D (ed) Progress in sensory physiology, vol 5. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York Tokyo, pp 1–79

  13. Hardie RC, Kirschfeld K (1983) Ultraviolet sensitivity of fly photoreceptors R7 and R8: evidence for a sensitising function. Biophys Struct Mech 9: 171–180

  14. Hardie RC, Franceschini N, Ribi W, Kirschfeld K (1981) Distribution and properties of sex-specific photoreceptors in the fly Musca domestica. J Comp Physiol 145: 139–152

  15. Hausen K, Egelhaaf M (1989) Neural mechanisms of visual course control in insects. In: Stavenga D, Hardie R (eds) Facets of vision. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 391–424

  16. Hernández de Salomon C, Spatz H-C (1983) Colour vision in Drosophila: wavelength discrimination. J Comp Physiol 150: 31–37

  17. Ilse D (1949) Colour discrimination in the dronefly, Eristalis tenax. Nature 163: 255–256

  18. Kaiser W (1975) The relationship between visual movement detection and colour vision in insects. In: Horridge GA (ed) The compound eye and vision of insects. Clarendon, Oxford, pp 359–377

  19. Kirschfeld K, Feiler R, Hardie R, Vogt K, Franceschini N (1983) The sensitizing pigment in fly photoreceptors. Properties and candidates. Biophys Struct Mech 10: 81–92

  20. Kugler H (1950) Der Blütenbesuch der Schlammfliege (Eristalomyia tenax). Z Vergl Physiol 32: 328–347

  21. Mazokhin-Porshnyakov GA, Volkov OG, Semenova SA (1984) A study of colour vision in flies by classical conditioning, Protophormia terrae-novae taken as an example. J Gen Biol (Moscow) 45: 653–659

  22. Menne D, Spatz H-C (1977) Colour vision in Drosophila melanogaster. J Comp Physiol 114: 301–312

  23. Neumeyer C (1980) Simultaneous color contrast in the honeybee. J Comp Physiol 139: 165–176

  24. Strausfeld NJ (1989) Beneath the compound eye: neuroanatomical analysis and physiological correlates in the study of insect vision. In: Stavenga D, Hardie R (eds) Facets of vision. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 317–359

  25. Troje N (1993) Spectral categories in the learning behaviour of blowflies. Z Naturforsch 48c: 96–104

  26. Wehner R (1981) Spatial vision in arthropods. In: Autrum H (ed) Handbook of sensory physiology, vol VII/6C. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 287–616

  27. Weiss MR (1991) Floral colour changes as cues for pollinators. Nature 354: 227–229

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Fukushi, T. Colour perception of single and mixed monochromatic lights in the blowfly Lucilia cuprina . J Comp Physiol A 175, 15–22 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00217432

Download citation

Key words

  • Colour perception
  • Colour mixture
  • Colour neutralization
  • Fly
  • Learning