Weis-Fogh clap and fling mechanism in Locusta


WEIS-FOGH discovered a mechanism of lift generation1 when he observed, from slow motion films, that the tiny parasitic wasp Encarsia clapped its wings together at the top of the stroke during hovering flight; the clap was followed by a ‘flinging open’ of the wings, as they rotated about a common axis where the hindwing trailing edges were in contact. He calculated that the insect generated greater lift than could be explained by steady-state aerodynamics. The importance of the clap and fling in generating this extra lift is now well established2–4. We report here that slow motion film of natural flight has revealed this mechanism in locusts and that it occurs during forward flight to produce extra lift.

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COOTER, R., BAKER, P. Weis-Fogh clap and fling mechanism in Locusta. Nature 269, 53–54 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1038/269053a0

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