Understanding ladybug wings could improve umbrellas
Ladybugs could hold the key to building an umbrella that does not blow inside out on a windy day, scientists believe.
The beetle manages to pack its wings away in complex origami-like folds beneath its carapace, before opening them into a fixed, strong membrane in flight.
Until now, the folding mechanism has remained a mystery because nobody could see beneath the outer spotty forewings, known as elytra.
But scientists in Japan created a see-through forewing out of transparent resin and transplanted it onto a ladybug to provide a literal window into the process, using high-speed cameras and CT scans to observe.
They say it will help explain how the elastic wings can maintain their strength and rigidity in flight, a finding that could improve the design of umbrellas, satellites and microscopic medical instruments.
“I believe that beetle wing-folding has the potential to change the umbrella design that has been basically unchanged for more than 1,000 years,” said assistant professor Kazuya Saito of the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science.
Ladybugs are highly mobile insects that can switch between walking and flying with ease and speed because they can quickly deploy and collapse their wings.
Scientists in Japan are trying to explain how ladybug wings can maintain their strength and rigidity in flight, which could also improve the design of satellites and medical instruments.