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The Lie: Evolution



by Karl C. Priest September 12, 2010 (updated 5-5-16)


Insect flight is mind boggling. Only a fanatic or a fool would fantasize that flight evolved.

This article is an attempt to explain the miracle of insect flight by using the words of scientists (and secular science reporters) themselves. A much more extensive play on this theme is the wonderful work That Their Words May Be Used against Them by Henry M. Morris. I make no claim to being anywhere close to what Dr. Morris did. In fact, this article is constructed entirely differently than Dr. Morris's book.

I omitted (using …) the names of those quoted below. Those can be obtained from the citations. I simply do not wish to use this article to embarrass individuals. I have done that elsewhere: Dawkins, Dawkins is Buggy, Buzzing Evolutionists, Evolution is a Lie, Arrest Threat, Helping Evolutionists Get it Right, and to a lesser extent in other articles. The most stinging expose’ of evolutionism is my article BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA! In fact, many of the quotes below would fit nicely in BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA! On a different tact, several examples below would fit perfectly in Thank God for Insects. Evolutionists cannot help but to Tacitly Admit Creation. One of the key scientists involved in flight design based upon insects appears to be a creationist.

Birds certainly have a place in the history of airplane design and scientist will still discover wonderful things about bird design which will be incorporated into better airplane design. Starting about 1990, technology began to advance to the point where scientists could study the diminutive insects. This puts insects on the cutting edge of flight research.

Scientists want to decipher God’s design of insect flight in order to make mico air vehicles (MAV), nano air vehicle (NAV ), or orinthopters (Google those words), for a variety of purposes such as searching in rubble of collapsed buildings, exploring hazardous areas (radioactive or battlefield for example), spying, and delivering weapons. Also see Addendum 8.

Now, loosely categorized, are the words of some highly intelligent folks who will not declare the obvious design features of God’s amazing insects.

(Be sure to scroll to the bottom for links to videos showing insects in flight.)


(I)nsects use what Ellington calls 'unsteady high-lift mechanisms' - tricks to generate more lift than you might expect from conventional aerodynamics. One such trick is found in the very tiniest insects, with wingspans of the order of a millimetre or so, to which the air seems much more viscous than it does to us - more like water than air. This has lead (sic) some to suggest that such insects might abandon aerodynamics altogether and swim, rather than fly through the air.

More recent study shows, in contrast, that tiny insects use lift in an ingenious way. The wasp Encarsia formosa, for example, beats its minute wings (spanning 1.5 mm) 400 times a second. Their wing motion is similar to that of most insects except that at the top of the upstroke, Encarsia formosa 's wings clap together and are then flung apart. Air moving into the vacuum created by the 'fling' sets up vortices circulating around the wings that increase lift more than you might expect from the shapes of the wings alone. A MAV that clapped its wings together hundreds of times a second, however, might soon bash itself to pieces.

Larger insects employ what is called 'dynamic stall': their mode of flight also generates vortices of air around the wing margins, and hence lift, so that the insects get caught up in their own slipstreams. But this mode of flight is inherently unstable, and insects must constantly manoeuvre themselves out of the stall before gravity forces them to earth.


Everyone knew, of course, that insects flap their wings while jumbo jets don’t, but no one could understand what effect this had. The Cambridge mechanical moth revealed circulating vortices of air moving along the upper wing from the body to the tip, like little tornadoes turned sideways, during the wings’ downstroke. These vortices push air downwards behind the trailing wing edge, and so generate lift.

The vortices are produced through a cunning gamble in which the insect places the wing briefly at a steep tilt to the airflow. If prolonged, this makes the flight stall. But if applied only briefly, it generates the helical airflow pattern before stalling kicks in. So this mechanism of flight is known as ‘delayed stall’.

( )

Insects use what…calls 'unsteady high-lift mechanisms' - tricks to generate more lift than you might expect from conventional aerodynamics. One such trick is found in the very tiniest insects, with wingspans of the order of a millimetre or so, to which the air seems much more viscous than it does to us - more like water than air.


The device was created using extremely high-speed flash photography to track the way smoke particles flow over a locust's wings in a wind tunnel - a technique called particle flow velocimetry. This allowed researchers at the University of Oxford to build a computer model of the insect's wing motion. They then built software that mimicked not only this motion, but also how wing surface features, such as structural veins and corrugations, and the wings' deformation as they flap, change aerodynamic performance.

The simulator could be a big step forward for the many teams around the world who are designing robotic insects, mainly for military purposes, though Thomas expects them to have a massive role as toys, too. Building miniature aircraft is of great interest to the armed forces. In the UK, for example, the Ministry of Defence wants to create a device that can fly in front of a convoy and detect explosives on the road ahead. In the US, the Pentagon's research arm DARPA is funding development of a "nano air vehicle" (NAV) for surveillance that it states must weigh no more than 10 grams and have only a 7.5-centimetre wingspan.

"Getting stable hover at the 10-gram size scale with beating wings is an engineering breakthrough, requiring much new understanding and invention," says... a micromechanics and flight researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. "The next step will be to get the flight efficiency up so hover can work for several minutes."

It wasn't until 1981 that…of the University of Southern California hit on a possible reason: his working model of a fly's wings, immersed in oil, showed large vortices were spinning off the leading edge of the wing as it beat (Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, vol 13, p 329). Within the vortices air is moving at high velocity, and is therefore at low pressure, hinting at a lift-creating mechanism unlike that of conventional aircraft, in which an angled wing travelling forward deflects air downwards, creating an opposing upward force.

In 1996…was a member of…'s team at the University of Cambridge, which identified the mechanism by which bugs created high lift forces - using a model of a hawkmoth. "We found a leading-edge vortex that was stable over the whole of the downstroke."

The nature of the leading-edge vortex is dependent on the size of the wings, their number, the pattern described by the beating wing and the wing structure.


In 2001researchers us ed a robotic model to show a whirl of air sits on top of the wing creating low pressure which pulls the insect up.

(Nature, 16 Au gust 2001, pp. 688–689, 729–733 via

According to a new Cornell study, an optimized flapping wing could actually require 27 percent less power than its optimal steady-flight counterpart at small scales.


Did you know that locusts are the long-distance champs of the insect world?  They can fly for hundreds of miles.  Science News, Live Science and Science Daily reported on work at Oxford to understand the wing design of “nature’s most efficient flyers.”  The researchers are finding that the flexibility in the wing is crucial to the efficiency. 

…said that until recently it has been impossible to study insect wings in detail because they flap so fast and their shape is so complicated.  Now, with wind tunnels and computer models, the problems are becoming tractable. 


…and colleagues used high-speed cameras to capture the details of how wings of the locust Schistocerca gregaria deform as they flap by bending and twisting. (A similar twist with an extended human arm would start with the thumb pointed slightly up at the top of the flap, then the arm would turn so the thumb is parallel to the ground in the middle of the flap and continue down until the thumb is pointed toward the ground at the end of the downstroke.)

Data from the high-resolution flight images allowed the researchers to create a near-perfect mathematical model of how the flexible, twisting wings propel the insect through the air. With the model in hand, …and his team could predict the shapes of the air currents around the flying locusts. Tiny packets of smoke released near a flying locust showed air swirls similar to swirls predicted by the model.

Figuring out the details of how locusts and other insects fly may help researchers design tiny robotic fliers. “There is a growing interest in the exploration of micro air vehicles. Nature’s designs may be useful in creating synthetic ones.”



The surfaces of some insect wings are design wonders. Some wings are superhydrophobic (almost impossible to wet). Other wings have almost zero friction which easily repels the smallest specs of dust.


Fruit flies can change course in less than one one-hundredth of a second (50 times faster than an eye blink).


Supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Bomphrey and his team use both cutting-edge computer modeling capabilities and the latest high-speed, high-resolution camera technology to investigate insect wing design and performance. By placing insects in a wind tunnel, seeding the air with a light fog and illuminating the particles with pulsing laser light (using a technique called Particle Image Velocimetry) the researchers observe the air flow velocities around insect wings. “Evolution (see BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA!) hasn’t settled on a single type of insect wing design”, said Bomphrey. “We aim to understand how natural selection led to this situation. But we also want to explore how manmade vehicles could transcend the constraints imposed by nature.”


Student researchers Tras Lin and Lingxiao Zheng are spearheading the Johns Hopkins contribution to MAV research, using high-speed video cameras to analyze the way a butterfly’s body moves in flight. The advanced cameras enabled the researchers to separate one-fifth of a second of movement into 600 frames. According to Lin, the breakdown shows that the insect’s body in flight shares some characteristics with the body movements of figure skaters, who use their arm position to modify their speed while spinning. According to Phil Sneiderman of Johns Hopkins, the key discovery so far has been to recognize that changes in the distribution of the insect’s body mass play an important role in its ability to perform intricate maneuvers while flapping its wings. Previous research into flight dynamics had overlooked this area of study and focused primarily on wing movements.


"Flying insects are capable of performing a dazzling variety of flight maneuvers," he said. "In designing MAVs, we can learn a lot from flying insects."

Butterflies move too quickly for someone to see these wing tactics clearly with the naked eye, so Lin, working with graduate student Lingxiao Zheng, used high-speed, high-resolution videogrammetry to mathematically document the trajectory and body conformation of painted lady butterflies. They accomplished this with three video cameras capable of recording 3,000 one-megapixel images per second. (By comparison, a standard video camera shoots 24, 30 or 60 frames per second.)

From these frames, the student typically homed in on roughly one-fifth of a second of flight, captured in 600 frames. "Butterflies flap their wings about 25 times per second," Lin said. "That's why we had to take so many pictures."


As tiny as insect brains are, they can still perform extraordinary acrobatics in the air that human flying machines have yet to match. Now scientists reveal a miniature helicopter, with an electronic brain inspired by insects, that could help lead to better takeoffs, flights and landings for robotic aircraft.

"It's extraordinary to see flies navigate with just their small 10-milligram brains," said researcher Nicolas Franceschini, a neurophysiologist and engineer at France’s National Center for Scientific Research and at the University of the Mediterranean in France.


A group of researchers from the University of Oxford is developing small aerial vehicles with flapping wings inspired by those found on insects...“By learning those lessons (insect design), our findings will make it possible to aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that, because they’re as small as insects and also fly like them, completely blend into their surroundings”...(A) an insect’s flapping wings combine both thrust and lift. If manmade vehicles could emulate this more efficient approach, it would be possible to scale down flying machines to much smaller dimensions than is currently possible...“For instance, bees are load-lifters, a predator such as a dragonfly is fast and maneuverable, and creatures like locusts have to range over vast distances. Investigating the differences between insect wing designs is a key focus of our work. These ecological differences have led to a variety of wing designs depending on the task needing to be performed. It means that new vehicles could be customized to suit particular uses ranging from exploring hostile terrain, collapsed buildings or chemical spills to providing enhanced TV coverage of sports and other events”. Supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Bomphrey and his team use both cutting-edge computer modeling capabilities and the latest high-speed, high-resolution camera technology to investigate insect wing design and performance.


Perhaps the most elaborate example of an arthropod joint, indeed one of the most complex skeletal structures known, is the wing hinge of insects—the morphological centerpiece of flight behavior. The hinge consists of an interconnected tangle of tiny, hard elements embedded in a thinner, more elastic cuticle of a rubberlike material called resilin, and bordered by the thick side walls of the thorax. In flies, the muscles that actually power the wings are not attached to the hinge. Instead, flight muscles cause small strains within the walls of the thorax, and the hinge amplifies these into large sweeping motions of the wing. Small control muscles attached directly to the hinge enable the insect to alter wing motion during steering maneuvers. Although the material properties of the elements within the hinge are indeed remarkable (resilin is one of the most resilient substances known), it is as much the structural complexity as the material properties that endows the origami- like wing hinge with its astonishing properties.

By controlling the mechanics of the wing hinge, the steering muscles act as a tiny transmission system that can make the wing beat differently from one stroke to the next. Electrophysiological studies indicate that this is a phase-control system. Most of the fly’s steering muscles are activated once per wingbeat, but the phase at which they’re activated is carefully regulated by the nervous system. This is important, because the stiffness of these muscles changes depending on the phase in which they are activated within the stroke. Even when the steering muscles are not actively contracting under the control of a motor neuron, they’re still being stretched back and forth by other muscles around them. If a muscle is activated by its own motor neuron while it is lengthening, it becomes stiff; if activated while shortening, it’s relatively compliant. The fly uses the steering muscles as phase-controlled springs to alter the way the large strains produced by the power muscles are transformed into wing motion.


"The evidence indicates that flexible wings are producing profoundly different air flows than stiff wings, and those flows appear to be more beneficial for generating lift."

A hawkmoth's wings are controlled by muscles on the insect's body and have no internal muscles of their own. The bulk of the wing is something like fabric stretched back from a stiff leading edge, fabric that is elastic and bends from inertia as the wing accelerates or decelerates through each stroke.

Our results show that the flexible wings are doing a better job of generating lift-favorable momentum than are the stiff wings. They also are inducing airflow with greater overall velocity, which suggests the production of greater force for flight.”


Together with a biologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, and a research assistant also at the California Institute of Technology, …determined how common fruit flies use their wings to make 90-degree turns at speeds faster than a blink of the human eye, let alone the swoosh of a swatter.

To turn, a flying creature must generate enough twisting force, or torque, to offset two forces working against it—the inertia of its own body (think forward motion on a bicycle, once you stop pedaling) and the viscous friction of the air, which for small insects is thought to be like syrup.

The research team found that fruit flies make subtle changes in the tilt of their wings relative to the ground and the size of each wing flap to generate the forces that allow them to turn. Flies then create an opposite twisting force with their wings to stop the inertia of the turn, preventing an out of control spin.

This finding, say the researchers, indicates that inertia, and not friction, is the greater force for the fruit fly to overcome in the turn.

Instead, to execute a turn, a fruit fly generates torque to accelerate into the turn and then the fly has to actively counteract the inertia of the turn by producing torque in the opposite direction, bringing the rotation of the body to a halt, according to the scientists. Once the flies have achieved their desired turn angle, they buzz off.

"In some ways it flies like a helicopter. It has to adjust its body orientation in space and does so using subtle changes in wing motion."


How can stall, which is disastrous for an airplane, help to lift an insect? The answer lies in the rate at which the wings flap. Wings do not stall instantly; it takes some time for the lift-generating flow to break down after the angle of attack increases. The initial stage of stall actually briefly increases the lift because of a short-lived flow structure called a leading-edge vortex.

Together wake capture and rotational circulation also help to explain the aerodynamics of flight control how flies steer. Flies are observed to adjust the timing of wing rotation when they turn. In some maneuvers, the wing on the outside of a turn rotates early, producing more lift, and the wing on the inside of a turn rotates late, generating less lift; the net force tilts and turns the fly in the desired direction. The fly has at its disposal an array of sophisticated sensors, including eyes, tiny hind wings that are used as gyroscopes, and a battery of mechanosensory structures on the wings that it can use to precisely tune rotational timing, stroke amplitude and other aspects of wing motion.


The Berkeley researcher noticed that fruit flies adjust wing-flip timing relative to overall stroke timing, but he didn't understand why. The new experiments suggest that the timing change alters the force and direction of the push on the wings, giving the animals exquisite maneuverability, he claims.


The dragonfly Aeschna cyanea can glide for up to 30 seconds without so much as a wingbeat. Yet its wings look nothing like the supposedly ideal streamlined, cambered wing perfected in 1901 by flight pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright and used ever since by the aviation industry. Instead, the wing surfaces are highly corrugated, with pleats that stiffen them against bending across their span.

They found that the pleats gave the wings much greater lift than they expected in gliding flight, matching and sometimes bettering that of a similarly sized streamlined wing (Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, vol 3, p 26004). This is because air circulates in the cavities between pleats, creating areas of very low drag that aid the lift-generating airflow across the wing.


If mastering flight is your goal, you can't do better than to emulate a dragonfly.

With four wings instead of the standard two and an unusual pitching stroke that allows the bug to hover and even shift into reverse, the slender, elegant insect is a marvel of engineering.

Dragonflies have a very odd stroke. It's an up-and-down stroke instead of a back-and-forth stroke," she said. "Dragonflies are one of the most maneuverable insects, so if they're doing that they're probably doing it for a reason. But what's strange about this is the fact that they're actually pushing down first in the lift.

"An airfoil uses aerodynamic lift to carry its weight. But the dragonfly uses a lot of aerodynamic drag to carry its weight. That is weird, because with airplanes you always think about minimizing drag. You never think about using drag."


"The fluttering of butterflies is not a random, erratic wandering, but results from the mastery of a wide array of aerodynamic mechanisms."

Insects are more agile than aircraft equipped with superfast digital electronic.'

First and foremost among the butterfly's attributes are highly flexible wings which combine with a slightly rotating wingbeat to change the wing's front, called the leading edge, during each upstroke and downstroke.

The result is a flight that may look unsteady to us but in fact is very efficient, because it generates little turbulence.

There are other times, though, when the butterfly deliberately creates a wake.

It uses something called a leading-edge vortex, in which the front of the wing creates a circular turbulence. The insect subtly uses this wash when it hovers, recycling the momentum to give itself lift and thus save energy.

In another stroke, a mechanism called "clap and fling" that has already been previously documented, the butterfly touches its wings together (the clap) and then separates them rapidly (the fling). This produces a brief vortex that gives it a touch more lift.

The red admirals' versatility has left…awe-struck.

"They switch between mechanisms freely, often using completely different mechanisms on successive wing strokes, and are able to choose different aerodynamic mechanisms to suit different flight behaviours," they say.


Most flying insects beat their wings in large strokes - typically flapping in arcs of 145° to 165° at a frequency determined by body size - to generate aerodynamic forces sufficient for flight. But this cannot explain how a heavy insect with a short wing beat, such as a bee, generates enough lift to fly.

…and his colleagues filmed hovering bees at 6000 frames per second, and plotted the unusual pattern of wing beats. The wing sweeps back in a 90˚ arc, then flips over as it returns - an incredible 230 times a second. The team made a robot to scale to measure the forces involved

It is the more exotic forces created as the wing changes direction that dominate. Additional vortices are produced by the rotation of the wing. "It's like a propeller, where the blade is rotating too," he says. Also, the wing flaps back into its own wake, which leads to higher forces than flapping in still air. Lastly, there is another peculiar force known as "added-mass force" which peaks at the ends of each stroke and is related to acceleration as the wings' direction changes.


The scientists analyzed pictures from hours of filming bees and mimicked the movements using robots with sensors for measuring forces.

Turns out bee flight mechanisms are more exotic than thought. 

"The honeybees have a rapid wing beat,"…told LiveScience. "In contrast to the fruit fly that has one eightieth the body size and flaps its wings 200 times each second, the much larger honeybee flaps its wings 230 times every second."

This was a surprise because as insects get smaller, their aerodynamic performance decreases and to compensate, they tend to flap their wings faster.

"And this was just for hovering,"….said of the bees. "They also have to transfer pollen and nectar and carry large loads, sometimes as much as their body mass, for the rest of the colony."


For instance, some wings are superhydrophobic, due to a clever combination of natural chemistry and their detailed structure at the nanoscopic scale. This means that the wing cannot become wet, the tiniest droplet of water is instantly repelled. Likewise, other insect wing surfaces are almost frictionless, so that any tiny dust particles that might stick are sloughed away with minimal force.


Biologists and engineers have long known that insect wings are more complex than just flat, rigid flapping plates.


Researchers are one step closer to creating a micro-aircraft that flies with the manoeuvrability and energy efficiency of an insect after decoding the aerodynamic secrets of insect flight.

The breakthrough result, published in the journal Science this week, means engineers understand for the first time the aerodynamic secrets of one of Nature's most efficient flyers – information vital to the creation of miniature robot flyers for use in situations such as search and rescue, military applications and inspecting hazardous environments.

"An insect's delicately structured wings, with their twists and curves, and ridged and wrinkled surfaces, are about as far away as you can get from the streamlined wing of an aircraft,"

"Locusts are an interesting insect for engineers to study because of their ability to fly extremely long distances on very limited energy reserves."

Once the computer model of the locust wing movement was perfected, the researchers ran modified simulations to find out why the wing structure was so complex.


Dr…from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, and a team of animal flight researchers from Oxford University's Department of Zoology, used high-speed digital video cameras to film locusts in action in a wind tunnel, capturing how the shape of a locust's wing changes in flight. They used that information to create a computer model which recreates the airflow and thrust generated by the complex flapping movement.


Flies are real flight artists, although they only have small wings compared to their body size. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, recently identified the genetic switch that regulates the formation of flight muscles…"The gene spalt is essential for the generation of the ultrafast super muscles," emphasizes (the) head of the research group "Muscle Dynamics." "Without spalt, the fly builds only normal leg muscles instead of flight muscles."…

In order to fly efficiently, flies have to flap their small wings very fast. This causes the familiar buzzing and humming of the small beasts. The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster moves her wings at a frequency of 200 hertz -- that means its flight muscles contract and relax 200 times per second…flight muscles are unique. Their contractions are not only regulated by nerve impulses as usual, but additionally triggered by tension. Every fly has two categories of flight muscles which enable the wing oscillations: One type moves the wings down and, at the same time, stretches the other type which induces its contraction. Such, the wings are pulled up again and stable wing oscillations begin.


Since this transcription factor is found in all cells, the really tricky question is: what activates ‘Spalt major’ in cells that are developing into flight muscles yet keeps it turned off in all other muscle cells? If all cells were flight muscle activated, the end result would again be an insect that couldn’t fly. For such a system to work there has to be a master plan determining which bits fly and which bits don’t



The turbulence that a passenger jet experiences is many times smaller than its speed and lift, yet it causes a lot of discomfort to those on board; microbursts of air have caused planes to crash. A better understanding of how bees handle these forces might lead to new ways to cope with them in aeroplanes.


Researchers have identified some of the underlying physics that may explain how insects can so quickly recover from a stall in midflight -- unlike conventional fixed wing aircraft, where a stalled state often leads to a crash landing.


Next time you're on an airplane, check out the wings. Every bolt and rivet is flush with the surface, creating an extremely smooth shape. The wings of the desert locust are not nearly as sleek: They're covered with ridges and veins, and they twist and deform as they flap. But these features make the insect an efficient flier, albeit at lower speeds, according to a new study...Conserving power by minimizing drag is crucial for desert locusts that sometimes must fly 300 kilometers at a time--orders of magnitude farther than small, battery-powered helicopters can, Thomas says. Engineers trying to design tiny aircrafts "drool" at the insect's endurance...


When a storm rolls in, mosquitos (sic) have to battle raindrops that are close to their size but with a mass up to 50 times that of the average mosquito (equivalent to the difference between a human and a school bus). How mosquitoes contend with these drops of doom is the subject of a study in this week’s issue of the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences . .. They found that mosquitoes are actually quite good at dealing with raindrops, even when receiving a direct hit between the wings. .. In recent years, we’ve seen the invention of many exceedingly small military aircraft, known as Micro Air Vehicles, or MAVs. If these vehicles become as small as mosquitoes, they would become subject to the same dangers as flying insects, including rainstorms. ( Mosquito tricks may also inspire engineers designing swarms of tiny flying robots, or interest physicists and mathematicians studying complex fluid dynamics at this scale. ( ‘The mosquito accomplishes this by using its long legs and wings, whose drag forces act to rotate the mosquito off the point of contact. This is necessary, otherwise the mosquito will be thrown into the ground at the speed of a falling raindrop.’


By figuring out how butterflies flutter among flowers with amazing grace and agility, the researchers hope to help small airborne robots mimic these maneuvers... U.S. defense agencies, which have funded this research, are supporting the development of bug-size flyers to carry out reconnaissance, search-and-rescue and environmental monitoring missions without risking human lives... Butterflies move too quickly for someone to see these wing tactics clearly with the naked eye, so Lin, working with graduate student Lingxiao Zheng, used high-speed, high-resolution videogrammetry to mathematically document the trajectory and body conformation of painted lady butterflies. They accomplished this with three video cameras capable of recording 3,000 one-megapixel images per second... Lin's newest project involves even smaller bugs. With support from a Johns Hopkins Provost's Undergraduate Research Award, he has begun aiming his video cameras at fruit flies, hoping to solve the mystery of how these insects manage to land upside down on perches.


An analysis of such sequences shows that the (fruit fly) male can adjust his flight behavior in less than 30 milliseconds after a change in the trajectory of the female. This is extraordinarily fast processing, and illustrates why the flight system of flies represents the gold standard for flying machines.


Flying insects' altitude control mechanisms are the focus of research being conducted in a Caltech laboratory under an Air Force Office of Scientific Research grant that may lead to technology that controls altitude in a variety of aircraft for the Air Force.


Insects in flight must somehow calculate and control their height above the ground, and researchers reporting online on August 19 in Current Biology, have new insight into how fruit flies do it.


Orchid bees swing their hind legs forward to reach top speed, a new study finds. The legs also generate lift, which keeps the bees balanced and helps prevent rolling


New research shows some bees brace themselves against wind and turbulence by extending their sturdy hind legs while flying.

"This increases the bees' moment of inertia and reduces rolling…much like a spinning ice skater who extends her arms to slow down."


Insects coordinate their wing movements with exquisite timing to generate a lift force. The key is how wings shed vortices from their edges. Vortices are moving parcels of air which carry away momentum, so like the air streams from a propeller they can generate a 'back' force on the object that sheds them.


Insects in flight must somehow calculate and control their height above the ground. The flies establish an altitude set point on the basis of nearby horizontal edges and tend to fly at the same height as those features. The results also provide confirmation of two other strategies that flies use to keep themselves stable and avoid collisions. If they see the world around them "moving"—for instance, if they are pushed down by a gust of wind—they will alter their flight to compensate. If the world beneath them appears to rapidly expand, as it would if they were hurtling toward the ground, they veer up to avoid crashing. Both of these mechanisms help maintain stability, but they don't set a specific altitude, the researchers said.

It's possible that other insects use different flight strategies. Even fruit flies might use different methods for flight control depending on the circumstances, the researchers said. For instance, edge tracking might be what they depend on to explore a local environment. When migrating across a desert, they might do something else entirely.

There is still plenty of exploring left to do. "We have identified one specific set of reflexes, but we still don't understand the neural mechanisms responsible."

The findings might have practical applications, he added. For example, they could come in handy for working out the ideal rules of operation for flying robots.


As the fly responded to virtual objects flying around it, the scientists used a fluorescent microscope to watch how its brain processed the images. Compared to people, who can distinguish a maximum of 25 discrete images per second, blowflies are visual virtuosos: They can sense up to 100 separate images per second and respond fast enough to change their flight direction.

The German scientists hope what they discover about insect vision will help build better flying robots. And they’re not the only ones studying flies in a flight simulator — a group led by…at the California Institute of Technology has used a similar setup, called Fly-O-Vision , to learn about muscle coordination and visual processing in fruit flies. (

Flies display a sophisticated suite of aerial behaviours that require rapid sensory-motor processing. Like all insects, flight control in flies is mediated in part by motion-sensitive visual interneurons that project to steering motor circuitry within the thorax. Flies, however, possess a unique flight control equilibrium sense that is encoded by mechanoreceptors at the base of the halteres, small dumb-bell-shaped organs derived through evolutionary transformation of the hind wings.

The results of uni- and bilateral ablation experiments demonstrate that the halteres are required for these stability reflexes. The results also confirm that halteres encode angular velocity of the body by detecting the Coriolis forces that result from the linear motion of the haltere within the rotating frame of reference of the fly's thorax. By rotating the flight arena at different orientations, it was possible to construct a complete directional tuning map of the haltere-mediated reflexes. The directional tuning of the reflex is quite linear such that the kinematic responses vary as simple trigonometric functions of stimulus orientation. The reflexes function primarily to stabilize pitch and yaw within the horizontal plane.


Halteres operate as vibrating structure gyroscopes. They flap up and down as the wings do and tend to maintain their plane of vibration. If the body of the insect changes direction in flight or rotates about its axis, a Coriolis force develops on the vibrating haltere, deflecting it from its stroke plane. The animal detects this deflection with sensory organs known as campaniform sensilla located at the base of the halteres. The planes of vibration of the two halteres are orthogonal, each forming an angle of about 45 degrees with the axis of the insect.

Halteres thus act as a balancing and guidance system, helping these insects to perform their fast aerobatics. In addition to providing rapid feedback to the muscles steering the wings, they also play an important role in stabilizing the head during flight.


The halteres, beating out of sync with the forewings, are the key to the fly's aerodynamic prowess.

"Flies are the most accomplished fliers on the planet in terms of aerodynamics. "They can do things no other animal can, like land on ceilings or inclined surfaces. And they are especially deft at takeoffs and landings -- their skill far exceeds that of any other insect or bird."


To fly successfully through unpredictable environments, aerial microrobots -- like insects, nature's nimblest fliers -- have to negotiate conditions that change second-by-second. Insects usually accomplish this by flapping their wings in unison, a process whose kinematic and aerodynamic basis remains poorly understood.


They used high-speed digital cameras to photograph the wing motion of the bugs, and found that locust wings curve strongly during flight.

The researchers input their measurements into a three-dimensional computer simulation — the first to include wings' complex curves. Within the model, the researchers tested different scenarios and removed certain wing features to explore the aerodynamic effects.

The team found that twisting wings are much more efficient than flat wings.

"If you change from a flat-plane wing to a twisted wing, it requires 50 percent less power to generate the same lift, which is a huge savings," said…of the University of Oxford in England.

The model revealed that curving wings are better able to create the right airflow while causing a minimum of drag downwards. 


The dragonfly is an aerial acrobat. It's able to fly fast and slow, backward and forward. Flapping four wings actually achieved lift with more efficiency than flapping just two wings. When the robot's hind wings flapped one-quarter of a wing beat ahead of the front wings, the team reports, the hind wings were able to capture the rush of air sent by the front wings and produce lift with 22% less power than two-winged insects require. Flapping in phase has benefits, too: When real dragonflies synchronize their wing beats, they are able to lift off and accelerate better than if they used only two wings or four out-of-sync wings, the authors say. Engineers may be able to apply these findings to building the next generation of flapping micro air vehicles.


The researchers, from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Caltech and the University of Vermont, merged two distinct technologies, intense X-ray beams and electronic flight simulators, to study how insect muscles can generate such extraordinary levels of power. The results are published in the British journal Nature today.

Lead researcher…of IIT said that the research has widespread implications. “Flying insects are among the most successful species in the animal kingdom. The ways in which the wing muscles in these insects generate enough power for flight is not completely understood. Insect muscles differ from animal muscles in that they do not need a nerve impulse for every contraction but instead are activated by stretch. The means by which these ‘stretch-activated muscles' are turned on and off at high speed — one wing beat takes 5/1000th of a second — has been a mystery.”

The team used extremely bright beams of X-rays at the BioCAT facility (a NIH- supported research center developed by IIT) at the APS and a “virtual-reality flight simulator” for flies — designed by collaborator Michael Dickinson of Caltech — to probe to the muscles in a flying fruit fly.


Flies achieve their astonishing maneuverability by moving their wings through complex, three-dimensional trajectories at frequencies that often exceed 100 hertz. The upstroke and downstroke patterns are almost symmetrical when flies hover but highly asymmetrical when they move forward or maneuver. Flies generate those large-amplitude, high-frequency wing strokes by using indirect flight muscles, so called because they deform a portion of the thorax rather than the wings themselves, inducing mechanical resonance in the fly's body. Smaller muscles connect directly to the wing hinge to fine tune the wing's movements.

Because of the small scale, the airflow around a fly is much more viscous than that around birds or fixed-wing aircraft. For insects, flight is somewhat like treading water. A fly's wing motions generate aerodynamic forces that can change magnitude drastically in a fraction of a second.

Control remains a challenge. A real fly can make rapid turns, called saccades, because it has a specialized neural system that allows for speedy responses. In a fly, neural impulses from internal feedback sensors directly modulate the flight muscles—without processing from the central nervous system—to counter disturbances.

Designing a robotic insect is more complicated than simply shrinking a model airplane, however, because the aerodynamics that govern flight are entirely different on the scale of insects. The basics of insect-flight aerodynamics in different patterns of airflow first became clear in 1999…

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As insects fly forwards the ground beneath them sweeps backwards through their field of view. This "optical flow" is thought to provide crucial cues about speed and height. For example, the higher an insect's altitude, the slower the optical flow; the faster it flies, the faster the optical flow.

Franceschini is currently talking to helicopter manufacturers about developing optical flow regulators for their aircraft. Such feedback mechanisms would be lightweight and trivial to develop and could help prevent crashes, he claims.


Fruit flies can make a complete U-turn in one-tenth of the time it takes you to blink. "That's faster than your eye would be able to perceive...It's something that manmade machines can't currently reproduce."

This aerial stunt requires surprisingly little thought on their part... researchers have puzzled over how a fly's simple brain can precisely control each of the 250 wing flaps per second it makes to execute a 180 degree turn... This design principle behind fly U-turns -- wings that are self-adjusting and do the work of turning by themselves -- has attracted the interest of researchers like Robert Wood of Harvard University, who are developing the latest generation of tiny manmade flying machines that buzz not with life but with electricity.


Because obviously understanding the nervous system correlates of how it controls flight must be quite important, because I know people are interested in working out if insects can do this, can we therefore make a better computer programme to control our planes and our artificial flying machines better.


One gaping hole in this robotic technology is how you get a tiny bug to fly exactly where you’d like it to.


Beating antiphase to the (fruit fly) wings , the halteres function as gyroscopes during flight.


Bees record the angle from the sun as they leave the hive and use the reciprocal angle to return, after adjusting for the sun’s movement over time…but when it’s windy, the bees are in danger of getting blown off course…Bees get their direction from the sun. They learn their positions from how the landscape moves across their field of vision…Scientists call this optical flow….Bees use the angle of optical flow to compenstate for the wind…it implies some puzzling computations are going on in their brains…”


Enormous numbers of migratory moths that fly high above our heads throughout the night aren't at the mercy of the winds that propel them toward their final destinations, researchers report online on April 3rd in Current Biology. Rather, they rely on sophisticated behaviors to control their flight direction, and to speed their long-distance journeys into areas suitable for the next generation of moths.

While it isn't yet clear exactly how they do it, the researchers said the findings offer the first hard evidence for a compass in nocturnally migrating insects.


How do moths stay aloft? With their antennae, of course. When your wingspan is just three inches across, the slightest breeze becomes a gale, and knowing which way is up becomes a matter of life and death. Now, a research team reports that moths stabilize their flight by using their antennae as gyroscopic sensors.

Rotational inertia keeps a spinning top balancing on its tip: If you try to knock it over, the Coriolis force pushes it to the side instead. The size of that force depends on how fast the top is spinning. Engineers measure the corrective force on calibrated gyroscopes to keep aircraft and ballistic missiles on a level course

So when… began filming the movements of moth antennae with a high-speed camera, he wanted to understand how the animals convert the speed of air rushing by into nerve impulses. The millimeter-sized antenna movements were too small to support the flow-sensor hypothesis, but when...did the math, he realized they were large enough to register Coriolis forces. …took recordings from the Johnston's organ, a mechanosensor at the base of the antenna, and found that it was most sensitive to vibrations at twice the wingbeat frequency, just as his gyroscopic hypothesis predicted. With this signal, the moth could be measuring every twist and turn of its body as it soared through the night sky.


"This (bee s landing after a flight) is something an engineer would not think of while sitting in an armchair and thinking about how to land an aircraft," said…a neuroscientist at the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland and the Australian Research Council's Vision Centre in Brisbane. "This is something we wouldn't have thought of if we hadn't watched bees do their landings."

"We don't know how they're doing it," he said, "But they're doing it."

If their landing surface was flat, the researchers report today in the Journal of Experimental Biology that bees simply touched down back legs first.

If the platform was anywhere between vertical and upside-down, on the other hand, the insects made contact with their antennae first, by pointing them almost perpendicular to the platform. Then, the bees hauled their front legs up and finished with a flip-like maneuver to get their mid-legs and rear legs onto the surface.

It's a graceful and acrobatic motion that would be well suited to aircraft design. Current landing systems use radiation-emitting systems, which are detectable and often undesirable for military applications.

It's a beautiful way of landing using biological autopilot.”


The signals pass on to a second set of neurons that connect to the neck muscles, and stabilise the fly’s head and thus its line of sight.

Lead researcher…from Imperial’s Department of Bioengineering says the pathway from visual signal to head movement is ingeniously designed: it uses information from both eyes, is direct, and does not require heavy computing power. He continues:

“Anyone who has watched one fly chasing another at incredibly high speed, without crashing or bumping into anything, can appreciate the high-end flight performance of these animals.


"The brains of insects measure the pattern of image motion and use it to perceive the world in 3-D to avoid collisions with obstacles and to perform smooth landings."


When insects fly, the image of the ground beneath them sweeps backward across their visual field in a way that depends both on the insect's height above the ground and on its speed relative to the ground--essentially, the higher the insect, the slower the ground will appear to move below it. This visual sweep, known as "optic flow," therefore potentially provides crucial information to the insect about its position relative to the ground, but it remains unclear exactly how such information is translated in a way that helps keep insects from crashing during flight.


Vision guides flight behaviour in numerous insects. Despite their small brain, insects easily outperform current man-made autonomous vehicles in many respects. Examples are the virtuosic chasing manoeuvres male flies perform as part of their mating behaviour and the ability of bees to assess, on the basis of visual motion cues, the distance travelled in a novel environment. Analyses at both the behavioural and neuronal levels are beginning to unveil reasons for such extraordinary capabilities of insects. One recipe for their success is the adaptation of visual information processing to the specific requirements of the behavioural tasks and to the specific spatiotemporal properties of the natural input.


The extraordinary flying ability of the dragonfly has been the subject of ongoing research by…from the Centre for Visual Sciences at ANU. He attributes their dazzling aerial control to their remarkable vision.

“What underlies their exceptional flight ability is excellent vision.”



As well as beetles, they are investigating flies, moths and dragonflies because of their "as-yet unmatched flight capabilities and increasingly well understood muscular and nervous systems".


The better we understand the functioning of insect wings, the more subtle and beautiful their designs appear … Structures are traditionally designed to deform as little as possible; mechanisms are designed to move component parts in predictable ways. Insect wings combine both in one, using components with a wide range of elastic properties, elegantly assembled to allow appropriate deformations in response to appropriate forces and to make the best possible use of the air.

(Robin J. Wootton, "The Mechanical Design of Insect Wings," Scientific American , vol. 263, November 1990, p. 120.)

Insects’ agility in flight is unmatched. It’s been an inspiration to many inventors as in inventing helicopters or other flying machines. Instead (of) creating robots which resemble insects, a few groups of engineers decided to develop technology which controls insects. The Hybrid Insect Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems project (HI-MEMS), led by Amit Lal, aims to miniaturize all the technology necessary so that it fits within the body of a flying insect.


(A) team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University is helping to develop a micro aerial vehicle (MAV for short) that will be no bigger than a bug...(for military reconnaissance)


The goal is to create robots that can travel in swarms over rough terrain to come to the aide of catastrophe victims... This new form of AI (artificial intelligence) takes its inspiration from the insect world, but is more as an abstract reflection on their instincts and design principles than merely imitating their morphology... Kovac imagines swarms of his robots equipped with different sensors and small cameras that could be deployed over devastated areas to transmit essential information back to rescue command centers. Who knows, we could see swarms of flying robots soaring into a blazing forest fire or other danger areas in near future.


(F)lies, for all their faults, are outstanding pilots. They can take off and land in any direction, even upside down. They can change course in just 30-thousandths of a second. And they process information at speeds that make a supercomputer look like an abacus.

"They're the fighter jets of the animal world," Fearing said.

Fearing and his pals cleared their first big hurdle in April when Dickinson figured out how flies fly. It was a question that had perplexed researchers for decades, and Fearing sheepishly admits that he had no clue how flies fly when he pitched robofly to the Office of Naval Research.

Lucky for him that Dickinson solved the riddle. Dickinson discovered that insects use three different wing motions that, taken together, create backspin and air vortices that create lift. The complexity of the movement means robofly will need four wings to do what flies do with two.



1. I did not research thermal regulation, sexual signaling, wing hooks, and other details of insect wing design for this article.

2. If the obligatory homage to the god of evolutionism is omitted from the research into insect flight absolutely nothing would change from the real scientific discoveries. An egregious example from “Secrets of insect flight revealed” is: "Biological systems have been optimised through evolutionary pressures over millions of years, and offer many examples of performance that far outstrips what we can achieve artificially.”


3. Air Force Bugbots in animation:  

4. Insect wing evolution revealed in recycled genes

The headline is a classic example of hype and hot air. Excited evolutionists proclaim stuff like this more often than people claim to see apparitions of Mary the mother of Jesus.

Some excerpts:

Butterflies, bees and buzzing insects of all kinds, how did they take to the air?

The question has puzzled evolutionary biologists for years, but they may now have an answer.

But it turns out that just two genes, may explain insect wings, reports a team led by Japan's Nao Niwa of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe.

Over those months, the Japanese team collected and dissected the insects' eggs, checking to see which genes turned on as wings developed in the mayflies, and which ones shut down in the bristletails, to test the two current theories to explain insect wing origins:

•Wings are brand new features that developed from the back shell of a bug.

•Wings are modified extensions of bug legs.

Niwa and colleagues conclude the answer is a mixture of both theories. A gene called "vestigial" and another called "wingless" (so named because it prevents wing growth when mutated in fruit flies) work together during the insects' embryonic growth to sprout wings in mayflies, and fail to fire up in the silverfish.

Both genes were already present in the wingless ancient ancestor of today's flying bugs…


This is pure propaganda. It is logarithmically lacking in logic. All they showed was what common sense would predict: The Designer (God) programmed genes to be turned on or off to provide or prevent a specific function or attribute.

Dr. Jerry Fausz responded to the article. Some excerpts from Dr. Fausz’s response:

In fact, their “conclusion” is seen to be less than weak considering that it is partly based on the idea that “both genes were already present in the wingless ancient ancestor of today’s flying bugs” (p. 5). If these scientists are searching for an explanation of the origin of insect wings, how is it that they already “know” that the insects they are studying have a common ancestor? Moreover, how do they know that this ancestor was flightless? Perhaps, these claims are supported by the fossil record? No, Vergano states in his article that “the fossil record offers no clues to [insect wing—JF] origin” (p. 5, emp. added).

In truth, this article illustrates a quite common feature of evolution research, in which the “conclusions” of the research are very often supported by the assumption that Darwinism is true.

Evidence for design in nature is overwhelming, but will never be found by those who begin their search with the assumption that it is not there.


5. Worthy of being in BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA! article the is “Mayfly Captured in Flight 300 Million Years Ago.”  Some 312 million years ago, a mayfly landed at the muddy edge of a puddle and then flew away… The mayfly fossil is now the oldest known full body impression of a flying insect, displacing the previous record-holder from 280-285 million years ago.


Hey, evos! It was a mayfly!! But, your flights of faith are impressive.

The earliest evidence of insect wings is from about 330 million years ago. Specimens from that era show they were fully formed and capable of manoeuvred and powered flight so they probably evolved earlier .

Encased in translucent rock called chert, the fossil is about an eighth of an inch square and reveals a pair of triangular jaws that are strikingly similar to those found only in winged insects, said

David A. Grimaldi (curator of entomology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York) said, “We had no idea that insects might have developed wings so early on in their evolutionary history. Either insects have been around for a lot longer prior to this time or wings and flight developed very rapidly after the origin of insects."

In 2002, Grimaldi and another true believer in evolutionism were a the London museum researching a book on insect evolution when they used a special type of microscope to examine a fossil that had been collected in 1919 by the Reverend W. Cran .

The tiny (about 1/8 inch sq.) specimen was a pair of triangular jaws with sockets oriented like those only seen in insects that fly. According to Grimaldi the jaws are “strikingly similar to those found only in winged insects.”

Remaining true to their faith in St. Darwin they dated the insect (Rhyniognatha hirsti ) as between 408 to 438 million years old. This became the oldest insect fossil (beating the previous one by 20 million years) and, according to evolutionists, pushed the origin of insect flight back about 80 million years.

Sources: ( and ( and (

A fossil (about 3 inches long) from shale dated at 310 million years old was found in 2008. There were no wings visible, but the scientists guess it had them due to body structure and the lack of footprints. They assume it is a mayfly.

Often it is only wings that survive because they are not digested by predators.

Sources: ( and (

This specimen made headlines in 2011 and was described as “ the world’s oldest insect fossil” and as “measuring 7.6 inches.”

Sources: ( and (

All they did was add more evidence that flying insects have been here from the beginning. That is observable and that is science. Evolutionists choose to beive in non-science. I choose to believe in Almighty God.

6. PhysOrgin (4-15-11) announced cheerfully, History of flies takes flight.” The headline suggested that an explanation of the origin of flight in flies would be forthcoming. Unfortunately, again, a team of 25 international scientists led by Simon Fraser University only had flying flies to exhibit. They used“genomic sequencing and morphological information to plug gaps in the 250-million-year history of Diptera” (true flies)…A look at the body of the article finds discussion of fly radiation, fly survival and fly extinction, but nothing about how the first non-flying insects evolved wings, muscles, and brains that allow these tiny acrobats to dazzle Caltech engineers. (4-6-11)

7. One of the biggest questions in evolution is why, how and when wings in insects evolved.


Insect wings are an evolutionarily significant novelty whose origin is not recorded in the fossil record.


8. In 2011 scientists decided it appears impossible to make a MAV the size of an insect so they started working on using real insects with some additions (“cyborg insects—having both living and manufactured parts). The goal is to control insect flight by implanting electrodes into strategic places on the insect’s body. Also, research was directed toward generating battery power for the cyborg control system by using the insect’s wing motion or body heat. Keeping with evo-whackiness an article on the subject contains a quate worthy of being in BWAH HAH HAH HAAAA!: “The current technology is simply not there yet to beat nature's evolution over several thousands of years.”


Worthy of being in

9.  (10-3-2011) "Dragonflies have two sets of wings and they flap in different phases," says Combes. "Sometimes they flap together; sometimes they're offset and we're seeing with our predation videos that they change this all the time."

Combes says engineers are looking to the dragonfly for inspiration in small-scale aircraft design. "There's a lot of interest in building small robotic devices and when you get down to the size scale of insects, you really can't build mini airplanes. The physics don't work well to have a little, tiny airplane. You really need to have flapping or rotating wings. So, we can learn a lot from these insects," she explains.

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10. Flight for Sore Eyes

Lady Bug

Bumble Bee

Honey Bee



11. See What the Inside of a Flying Insect Looks Like.

12. See Evolution defying flying insects.

13. Also see:  “Aces of the Air” “The Evolution of Insect Flight”  “‘Evolutionary Origins’ Continue to be Pushed Back in Time”   “Evolution of Insect Flight? Let's Look at Flightlessness Instead”   “Flying Insects”   “Insect Flight: Testimony to Creation”   “Insect Fossil Flies in the Face of Gradual Evolution”   “Insects—Defying the Laws of Aerodynamics?”  “Insect Wings - Wonders of Creation”   “New Insect Flight Theory   “Response to ‘Insect Wing Evolution Revealed In Recycled Genes’”   "Samples of Common Sense Clarification of Report Distortions"   “Tail-gliding Bugs Are Not Evidence for Flight Evolution”   “The Wright Brothers’ Airplane Compared to Insect Flight Design   “Who Makes the World’s Best Fliers?” "What the Inside of a Flying Insect Looks Like"