Moths and Beetles in Flight

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Watching insects take flight in high-speed video is always mesmerizing. So often their wings look too small and fragile to lift their bulbous bodies, but they manage the feat easily. I especially like to watch how much their wings flex during each up- and downstroke. So often we think that stiffer wings — like those on airplanes — are better for flight, yet nature demonstrates at so many sizes that flexibility is better, especially in flapping flight. A flexible wing can maximize lift in the downstroke and curl to minimize drag on the upstroke. Even wings that fold away, as many beetle wings do, can do the job of lifting an insect once shaken out. (Image and video credit: Ant Lab)

One comment
  1. Karl W

    This is all about Re. Insect wings generate lift in a totally different way than airplane wings. It is why low Re airfoils look so crazy. You can be totally kow aspect ratio and use the vortices for lift.

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