10. How Do Insects Fly?

Part of Flight Week

In order to fly there are a few important factors:

  • The shape of the wing
  • The ability to move it through the air
  • Scientists have been trying to work out how insects fly for many many years - this has been quite tricky due to the size of the insects - very tiny - and the speed at which they fly around.

Have you tried to follow a fly or a wasp around the house to try to open the correct window to let it out?

They seem to disappear and then all of a sudden it is right beside you!

When high-speed film was invented this made the scientist life so much easier and started to give them all the information they were missing.

What has been found out is that insects use two different mechanisms for flying - either indirect mechanism or direct mechanism.

Direct Flight Mechanism

This involves the insect using the muscles that attach the wings to their bodies to move their wings first in one way such as up and then the other way down but sometimes this is sideways and backwards and forwards - quite a complicated movement!

Indirect Flight Mechanism

This is slightly different as instead of just moving the wings by way of muscle sets they change the shape of the thorax - the centre part of the insect's body - almost like when we breathe in and out and change the shape of our chest and stomach - this mechanism moves the wings - sounds exhausting for a wee tiny insect but actually uses less energy than the direct flight.

YouTube Video: How Do Insects Fly?

Find out more about these insects on the woodland trust web site

Fun Activity: Now Make Your Own Flying Insects with our activity sheet and send us photos of what you have made!

Send Us Your Flying Insect

Now let's look more closely at a few of our favourites... Butteries and ladybirds...

This page is part of the Flight Week information.

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