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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 24 January, 2021

  • 6 Min Read

How do butterflies fly with such small bodies and large wings?

How do butterflies fly with such small bodies and large wings?

  • Unlike any other flying animal, butterflies have unusually short, broad and large wings relative to their body size.
  • By studying the aerodynamics of butterflies in a wind tunnel, researchers have now answered this question which has confused lepidopterologists (who study moths and butterflies) for years.
  • The results suggested that butterflies use a clap technique which helps them take off rapidly. “When the wings clap together, the air between the wings is pressed out, creating a jet, pushing the animal in the opposite direction,” explains the paper published on Wednesday in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
  • The flexible butterfly wings form a cupped shape during the upstroke and a clap that thrusts the butterfly forwards, while the downstroke is used for weight support.
  • Though butterflies exhibit a fluttery flight, they also perform highly directed and sustained flights during migration and take-off. Butterflies need high force and control for fast take-off flights. The team kept six individuals of silver-washed fritillaries (Argynnis paphia) in a wind tunnel and studied the behaviour and aerodynamics.
  • Why should one study butterflies and their flight? The shape and flexibility of butterfly wings could inspire improved performance and flight technology in small drones.

Source: TH


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