The aerodynamics of flight in an insect flight-mill

Gal Ribak, Shay Barkan, Victoria Soroker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Predicting the dispersal of pest insects is important for pest management schemes. Flight-mills provide a simple way to evaluate the flight potential of insects, but there are several complications in relating tethered-flight to natural flight. We used high-speed video to evaluate the effect of flight-mill design on flight of the red palm weevil (Rynchophorous ferrugin-neus) in four variants of a flight-mill. Two variants had the rotating radial arm pivoted on the main shaft of the rotation axis, allowing freedom to elevate the arm as the insect applied lift force. Two other variants had the pivot point fixed, restricting the radial arm to horizontal motion. Beetles were tethered with their lateral axis horizontal or rotated by 40, as in a banked turn. Flight-mill type did not affect flight speed or wing-beat frequency, but did affect flapping kinematics. The wingtip internal to the circular trajectory was always moved faster relative to air, suggesting that the beetles were attempting to steer in the opposite direction to the curved trajectory forced by the flight-mill. However, banked beetles had lower flapping asymmetry, generated higher lift forces and lost more of their body mass per time and distance flown during prolonged flight compared to beetles flying level. The results indicate, that flapping asymmetry and low lift can be rectified by tethering the beetle in a banked orientation, but the flight still does not correspond directly to free-flight. This should be recognized and taken into account when designing flight-mills and interoperating their data.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0186441
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Ribak et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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