Learning helps tobacco hawkmoths to select a nectar source and oviposition site more efficiently

Researchers have gained new insights into the learning ability of tobacco hawkmoths. In two recent publications, they report that learning odors does not only play a role in foraging, but that female moths are also influenced by previously learned odors when choosing a host plant to lay their eggs. In this context, a single deposited egg on a certain plant is sufficient for the moth's choice to visit the same plant species again even after 24 hours. In contrast, the moth's second nose, the tip of the proboscis on which olfactory sensory cells have also been identified, does not appear to play a role in learning odors and making odor-guided foraging decisions. The results provide clues to the adaptability of these insects to their environment.