Insects dominate the earth in sheer numbers and biodiversity. There are more insects in the world than all other animals combined. What makes insects so successful from an evolutionary standpoint? There are many answers to this question. First, the evolution of flight which enabled them to colonize remote niches and allowed them to hunt or escape better. Second, their ability to adapt to diverse environments, with unique adaptations that highlight their ability to survive. Third, in many cases, their ability to collectively alter their environment to suit their purpose. In our presentation, we will focus on each one of these facets to showcase the fascinating field of insect behaviour.
The Insect flight lab is housed in the National Centre for Biological Sciences, a campus of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Since 2007, we have been studying two major questions relating to insects: the biomechanics, neurobiology and ecophysiology of flight, and collective nest building. Because insects do not respect human-made boundaries between disciplines, our approach is interdisciplinary and experimental. We are a ragtag bunch of students from different fields ranging from physics and engineering to zoology. As a lab, we are also deeply concerned in the recently reported declines in insects across the world.