One of the main modes of movement for many members of the class of insects is flight. Thanks to the ability to fly, insects can find food for themselves, sexual partners for mating, escape from enemies, migrate and, ultimately, settle around the planet. It is not for nothing that insects are the most numerous group of animals on planet Earth.
According to research carried out by entomologists, insects are the first organisms on Earth that have managed to rise into the air, developing their unique ability to fly. It's hard to believe, but more than 360 million years ago, some representatives of the class of insects already flew over the planet Earth. Then there was only one continent - the Pangea supercontinent, which united almost all of the Earth's land.
Insects are generally the only class of invertebrates that can fly. It was the appearance of their wings that made them fast and agile creatures. In addition, they acquired the ability to migrate regularly, and their general behavior became more complex. With the advent of the ability to fly, the opportunities for reproduction, nutrition and defense against predators have increased.
The flight of insects is of great interest to scientists. Today, the mechanism and principles of flight of these creatures are of great interest for applied bionics and entomology, as well as for systematics and comparative physiology. Some people compare the flight of insects to the flight of an airplane. This is not an entirely accurate comparison. The fact is that insects use air currents for their flight, while the resulting turbulence is very dangerous for an aircraft.
How do insects fly?
As mentioned above, insects use powerful air currents for their flights, and if a decrease in air resistance is of great importance for an aircraft (for this, the wings of an aircraft are motionless and streamlined), then for insects it is not. On the contrary, their wings are in constant motion during flight. That is why they are not afraid of turbulence.
Insects can fly in several ways. The main one is, of course, active (flapping) flight. In addition, they use the so-called forward flight, which is quite maneuverable, fast, stable and economical. Often insects just hover in the air. This is also a flight that allows you to keep your position in space unchanged. Like birds, insects also practice passive flight, which is subdivided into parachuting, diving, gliding and hovering. To perform all these types of flights, these amazing creatures must be "equipped" with special "devices".
What "adaptations" help insects fly?
Wings. They are lamellar outgrowths of the integument, which are directly connected to a whole complex of muscles serving them. Basically, insects have two pairs of wings: front and back. The wings themselves consist of the thinnest wing plate (membrane), which is attached to solid veins. The veins, in turn, constitute the solid base of the wing.
Wing musculature. Unlike the wings of birds and bats, insect wings are devoid of their own muscles, so they are driven by the pectoral muscles. These include the longitudinal dorsal muscles, pleural muscles, longitudinal ventral muscles, and dorsoventral muscles.
The eighth wonder of the world
Scientists call the technique of flying insects a miracle. For example, an ordinary mosquito in the air can easily catch up with a female, forcing her to go down. A specialist from the American University in Florida, Jerry Butler, was able to determine the speed of this very mosquito using a bullet fired from a pistol. It turned out that the insect managed to catch up with this bullet in the air at a speed of 144 km / h! Amazing!