Scientists have always been wondering how ladybugs manage to fold their big inner wings under the small spotted cases. After thorough research, they have finally been able to solve the mystery. They observed how they used an origami-like technique to fit the wings inside the elytra. These findings might help engineers design better umbrellas or other mechanisms in the future.
Ladybugs and their quick shift
Ladybugs are very agile flyers. Their best characteristic is that they can quickly shift from flying to walking. This is why researchers wanted to figure out how they managed to fold their wings so swiftly. Unfortunately, they first fold their inner wings before the spotted elytra is completely folded. This made the process very hard to observe.
A new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals the complex mechanism behind how ladybugs fold and unfold their wings. Initially, researchers opted for a high-speed camera to observe the technique. However, they were unable to see the whole process because the opaque spotted wing cases closed too quickly.
Then, they thought of 3D printing an artificial wing, but that still didn’t offer the transparency they needed. That’s when they came up with the idea of replacing the spotted opaque wings with transparent ones made of nail-art resin. That’s how they observed ladybugs used a combination of abdominal movements and the edge of the elytra to fold and unfold their wings.
Making use of flexibility in mechanical designs
These insects rely on both strength and flexibility for this process, unlike other insects do not shift so quickly from a movement state to a flying one. Researchers found that the secret of the ladybugs was the design of their wings. They behave like natural origami to fold and unfold quickly.
Researchers can use the way in which ladybugs fold their wings to create better designs from now on. After learning more about ladybugs, they can create better carrier aircrafts, flexible umbrellas, and satellite antenna reflectors. It is fascinating how nature teaches us to create flexible and neat designs.
Image source: Pixabay