Like a ladybug packs your wings

The inner surface of the elytra of lady beetles helps them to pack the wings in a rather complex manner.

A characteristic feature of all beetles as insect order – hardened front pair of wings called elytra. Below them is the second pair of wings, transparent and elastic; it is on the second pair of beetles and fly. (Although among them there are species in which the wings and elytra are underdeveloped, reduced, or even spliced with each other.) The wings are usually longer and wider elytra, and because the beetles have folding wings to entirely hide them under the protection of the elytra.

Especially the differences between the two are evident in ladybirds, which, despite the relatively very large wings, easily managed with them. How exactly ladybug hides wings under the elytra, long time, no one knew. Judging by the Packed wings, the procedure here was to be quite complex . It is known that the beetles abdomen moves up and down when they fold their wings – but as such a simple movement so cleverly help their packaging?

Find out the secret of ladybirds was not so simple – stop flight, they first fold of the elytra, and then how would absorb them under the wings, and what happens to them, it is impossible to see. Researchers from the University of Tokyo solved the problem quite a witty way. Of transparent synthetic resin, used in cosmetics for capacity and modeling of nails, they made a copy of the elytra are seven-spotted ladybugs and replaced with the experimental Zhuk his own wing case for synthetic, and then use high-speed video camera filmed everything that happens with the wing during folding and unfolding.

In an article in PNAS says that in ladybirds elytra serve as a kind of form that sends the wing when folding. The curves on the inner surface of the elytra, which go directly from their edges coincide with the solid curves of the veins, which serve as the main wing. When the wing is retracted under the elytra, it immediately begins to take shape. Movement abdomen really just need for manual pushing of the wing, the shape he gives the wing case; this can be partly compared to the way water takes the shape of the vessel.

Researchers also asked how the wings of ladybugs may be hard – otherwise the beetles would fly, and quite flexible, otherwise they could not so pack. Analyzing the structure of the wings with the help of computer tomography, Kazuya Saito (Saito Kazuya) and his colleagues found that the shape of the veins of the wings, their curves making the wings in something like a metal tape measure used to measure length: in the expanded state of the canvas roulette solid, stiff, but when it starts to wind down, it becomes flexible and the same thing happens with the wings of ladybirds. It is possible that their “cryopedology” technology will be useful to engineers-robotics, designing aircraft and spacecraft.

Ladybugs with artificial wing case of transparent resin. (Photo: Kazuya Saito University of Tokyo.)

Wing ladybugs in the expanded and collapsed state. (Photo: Kazuya Saito University of Tokyo.)”

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