Phenomena

Unusual Insects Taking Off

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What do you do when you’re an insect researcher with a high-speed camera? Why, film all sorts of unusual insects from your backyard as they take off and fly! Here Dr. Adrian Smith of Ant Lab shows us a slew of insects that are not unusual for their rarity — you can probably find many of these in your own yard — but they are rarely seen in insect flight research. Like many of the species we’ve seen before, lots of these fliers use a figure-8 wingstroke to stay aloft. But one feature that really struck me as I watched was how amazingly flexible many of their wings were. For many of them, parts of their wings actually curl back on themselves during parts of the stroke. As engineers, our first instinct would be to avoid that kind of complexity, but I expect that it must give the insects some kind of benefit — otherwise nature would have eliminated it. (Image and video credit: Ant Lab/A. Smith; via Colossal)

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