Have you ever wondered how mosquitoes fly? (Yes, those pests that bother you at summer BBQs.) Well if you have, you are in luck. A group of scientists from Oxford have analyzed every move these tiny creatures make. The group used high speed cameras and computer simulations to capture the insects’ movements. If you have ever looked closely at a mosquito you would notice that their wings are quite unusual when compared to other winged animals. A mosquitoes’ wings are long and narrow. Their wing morphology leads to unique flight patterns; before this study their flight mechanisms were not known. It had always been a struggle to adequately capture their speedy wing movement.
Mosquitoes' wings move at a rate of 800 beats per second with a very low stroke amplitude. Their wing movement and stroke amplitude are unlike any other insects. From this new study, it was discovered that the mosquitoes use two aerodynamic mechanisms called trailing edge-vortices and rotational drag. The trailing-edge vortex can be described as the instance when mosquitoes orient their wings to match up with the fluid flow from the previous wing movement. Their wings also rotate after each beat. This enables them to utilize the wind created from their previous beats. These newly found aerodynamic mechanisms help scientists understand their unique wing morphology. Understanding the mechanisms behind mosquitoes’ flight could also help develop new small aerodynamic technologies as well as getting to the bottom of why mosquitoes are such good carriers of disease.
Posted by Leah DeLorenzo (7)