Video shows how moths use their bodies to hover

Last Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 21:01

London: Super slow-motion footage of a moth in flight has revealed how insects use their bodies to hover.
The moth moves its body by pivoting its abdomen up and down to fine-tune the forces that keep the insect airborne, the BBC reported.

The researchers are studying insect flight in order to "distil the biological principles of flight control ".

This, they say, will help them to accurately engineer flying robots that use these same principles.

As an insect`s wings move through the air, they are held at a slight angle, which deflects the air downward.

This deflection means the air flows faster over the wing than underneath, causing air pressure to build up beneath the wings, while the pressure above the wings is reduced. It is this difference in pressure that produces lift.

Flapping creates an additional forward and upward force known as thrust, which counteracts the insect`s weight and the "drag" of air resistance.

The downstroke or the flap is also called the "power stroke", as it provides the majority of the thrust. During this, the wing is angled downwards even more steeply.

You can imagine this stroke as a very brief downward dive through the air - it momentarily uses the weight of the animal`s own weight in order to move forwards. But because the wings continue to generate lift, the creature remains airborne.

In each upstroke, the wing is slightly folded inwards to reduce resistance.

Lead author Jonathan Dyhr from University of Washington explained that - in terms of insect models - moths provided a particularly interesting basis for miniaturised robots.

And although they`re relatively big, Dr Dyhr said that they`re "incredibly good at hovering."

The findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.


First Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 21:01

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