High-speed videography was used to record sequences of individual hawkmoths in free flight over a range of speeds from hovering to 5 ms-1. At each speed, three successive wingbeats were subjected to a detailed analysis of the body and wingtip kinematics and of the associated time course of wing rotation. Results are presented for one male and two female moths. The clearest kinematic trends accompanying increases in forward speed were an increase in stroke plane angle and a decrease in body angle. The latter may have resulted from a slight dorsal shift in the area swept by the wings as the supination position became less ventral with increasing speed. These trends were most pronounced between hovering and 3 ms-1, and the changes were gradual; there was no distinct gait change of the kind observed in some vertebrate fliers. The wing rotated as two functional sections: the hindwing and the portion of the forewing with which it is in contact, and the distal half of the forewing. The latter displayed greater fluctuation in the angle of rotation, especially at the lower speeds. As forward speed increased, the discrepancy between the rotation angles of the two halfstrokes, and of the two wing sections, became smaller. The downstroke wing torsion was set early in the halfstroke and then held constant during the translational phase.
The mechanics of flight in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta. I. Kinematics of hovering and forward flight.
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A P Willmott, C P Ellington; The mechanics of flight in the hawkmoth Manduca sexta. I. Kinematics of hovering and forward flight.. J Exp Biol 1 November 1997; 200 (21): 2705–2722. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.200.21.2705
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