Science: How Insects Fly

With their proportionately bulky bodies supported by puny wings, many flying insects look about as airworthy as a Mack truck. French Zoologist Antoine Magnan once studied bumblebees for several years, reached the conclusion that their ability to fly defied all known physical principles. The secret of this kind of flight lies in rapid wing beats. The tiny midge beats its wings 1,000 times per second to stay airborne, each beat contributing a minute amount of lift.

Scientists have long known that the muscle contractions necessary to produce these rapid wing beats are not triggered individually by nerve stimulus, as in birds. Nerves...

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