Role of outstretched forelegs of flying beetles revealed and demonstrated by remote leg stimulation in free flight
Vo Doan, Tat Thang
Date of Issue2017
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
In flight, many insects fold their forelegs tightly close to the body, which naturally decreases drag or air resistance. However, flying beetles stretch out their forelegs for some reason. Why do they adopt this posture in flight? Here, we show the role of the stretched forelegs in flight of the beetle Mecynorrhina torquata. Using leg motion tracking and electromyography in flight, we found that the forelegs were voluntarily swung clockwise in yaw to induce counter-clockwise rotation of the body for turning left, and vice versa. Furthermore, we demonstrated remote control of left–right turnings in flight by swinging the forelegs via a remote electrical stimulator for the leg muscles. The results and demonstration reveal that the beetle’s forelegs play a supplemental role in directional steering during flight.
Journal of Experimental Biology
© 2017 The Author(s) (published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.) This paper was published in Journal of Experimental Biology and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of The Company of Biologists Ltd. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.159376]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.