I used to see moths as simple, clumsy beings, whose sole purpose in life is that of annoying people by hitting light-bulbs head first repeatedly in a closed loop. The hawk moth (Manduca sexta), however, is in a whole different league entirely, and it’s because of this hummingbird-like insect that I’ve come to reconsider my views upon the species.
Using high speed cameras, Tyson Hedrick, a biomechanist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studied the hawk moth’s flight pattern, as well as its response to various sudden stimuli (e.g. firing a tiny cannonball at it) to see how well it can stabilize itself. He found that thanks its lift generating technique, the Manduca sexta can almost instantly revert back to its initial position, which might help engineers develop someday wing-flapping UAVs. The whole video is extremely interesting, not only because of the great insights it shares, but for the moth’s stunning grace with which it hovers. Check out the video below.
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