Guiding BeeHow Insects Fly

Wing Structures and Manoeuverability


The large wings of the Lepidoptera are covered with countless tiny scales of the same material as the wings themselves. These scales are coloured or just refract the light to produce the beautiful patterns that we see every summer and obscure the wings which are as transparent as a housefly's.


The Diptera, one of the most recently evolved insect orders, are the Red Barons of the insect world. The common housefly (photo) has converted its hind wings into stumps which act as a gyroscopes to stabilize it. This is the reason why flies are able to dart about as they do, changing direction suddenly, turning right angles, even flying backwards.

How Insects Fly...2, March 1996