It is said ladybugs bring good luck when they appear. Beyond beauty, they also become an object for learning and researching these days. Many experts want to learn more regarding ladybug wings!
Watching ladybugs fly is entertaining, somehow, in how they fly steadily despite their small size. Lots of people wonder how this creature folds its wings, though. They also want to know the mechanism.
Can They Fly?
Well, of course, they can. The right question is whether they can fly far and high like birds or not. Based on studies, this insect’s flight ability is underrated due to their tiny size.
Here is a fact. Ladybirds can fly as high as 3,600 feet! As for the speed, they can even reach up to 30 miles per hour. This is amazing, considering their size, which is quite small.
Aside from using their color and bad scent to repel predators, ladybirds indeed depend on their wings. They may fly away from dangers, even though it may take some time to take off.
Even though many people think that ladybugs are not skillful and fast flyers, the fact says otherwise. This explains why humans cannot catch them easily when flying. The problem is ladybugs fly infrequently.
Like other airborne animals, ladybugs depend on wings for flying. For the information, they have 2 pairs of wings. The first ones (with red color) are hard and look like shells.
The hard wings are meant to protect the inner wings. These are called elytra or shielding wing cases. When flying, they would open these and unfold the inner wings.
What about another pair? As mentioned earlier, they are located beneath the outer wings. They are delicate and foldable. Still, despite the fact, these wings help ladybugs to fly fast and high!
The inner wings are transparent and these can’t regenerate when broken or damaged. Thus, once ladybugs lose their wings, they can’t fly anymore! This condition is doom for them.
In terms of size, delicate wings are much larger than the wing cases. They are folded inside for fitting the case. These must dry as the requirement for flying, though.
Can Babies/Larvae Fly?
During the early stage, larvae or babies haven’t developed perfect ladybug wings. That means they can’t fly at this phase. Instead, they would crawl around when snacking or eating (at an aphid colony).
Once they gain perfect wings (both layers), they would fly with these, whatever the purpose is. For the information, larvae have a similar appearance to a petite alligator instead of a beetle.
They Need Preparation before Flying
It is true many beetles don’t need much time for taking off. However, ladybugs do need some time to start flying. First, they must open their elytra and unfold their hind wings.
Next, they would start beating these delicate wings and release the grip of the feet. Soon, they launch themselves into the air. It may take several seconds to do this preparation.
Therefore, the best time to catch ladybugs is when they are on the ground. Once they are in the air, it would be difficult to catch them due to both speed and versatility.
Their Stamina is Top-notch
Experts or Scientists have studied the flight capability of ladybugs. The records state that the creature can fly high and far (as mentioned before). Poorly, ladybirds are underrated when it comes to flying.
Based on the record, ladybirds can fly long, which is up to 120 minutes! It says that they can travel more than 70 miles in a single flight. This is why ladybugs become one of the most amazing beetles out there.
Studies about How Ladybugs Fold Their Wings
Even though there have been many studies about this, no one knows the mechanism. The simplest analysis is that ladybugs would open the wing cases and unfold the inner wings before flying.
A recent study utilized high-speed cameras to learn the folding and unfolding process of ladybug wings. The purpose is to find out an accurate pattern of it.
The result shows that the process is similar to origami, especially when the wings collapse. Moreover, some scientists have recreated this mechanism using origami paper!
Based on the studies, when expanded, the wings remain constant. It is because ladybugs have veins that apply a technique that similar to tape strings. Still, the way ladybugs achieve a perfect folding is amazing!
Those who have an interest regarding how ladybugs fold and unfolding their wings are mechanical, aerospace, mechanics, and robotics engineers.
These people want to apply the mechanism to various technologies like aircraft wings, solar arrays, folding antennas of space technology, fans, umbrellas, and others.
To sum up, adult ladybugs can fly with their wings. That means larvae and babies aren’t able to fly yet due to the incomplete wings. As for the purpose, they fly either to move places or when get threatened.
Learning some facts about ladybug wings is quite beneficial both for adults and kids. This way, everyone would have an interest in this insect and decides to keep some in his garden, no?