Living With Insect Vision

Eye of an Ant

Eye of an Ant
Image: Noah Fram 2014 Nikon Small World Honorable Mention

For much of the 20th century, biologists believed that millipedes were the most closely related arthropod relative of insects. The evidence that insects and crustaceans are the most closely related arthropods has led many biologists to make more comparisons between insects and crustaceans and to study both groups to find answers to questions. The crustacean compound eye, once thought to be unrelated to the insect compound eye is now understood to be a related structure. Light scattering makes long distance vision problematic for creatures living in the water such as crustaceans. The crustacean eye is not adapted to seeing at a distance. When insects adapted to land, their eyes, adapted to underwater, did not adapt to include long distance vision. The insect compound eye has relatively poor discrimination of objects and does not make 3-D images as do crustaceans. Rather than developing long distance vision and object detection insect eye developed in a way that is good at detecting motion and using patterns to avoid collisions while navigating a complex environment.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment, Taxonomy. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Living With Insect Vision

  1. Jordan says:

    Very informative post! I had no idea crustacean’s eyes were so similar to insect’s. It also makes sense that an insect’s would adapt to detecting motion best.

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