Details of insect wing design and deformation enhance aerodynamic function and flight efficiency.
Young J., Walker SM., Bomphrey RJ., Taylor GK., Thomas AL.
Insect wings are complex structures that deform dramatically in flight. We analyzed the aerodynamic consequences of wing deformation in locusts using a three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics simulation based on detailed wing kinematics. We validated the simulation against smoke visualizations and digital particle image velocimetry on real locusts. We then used the validated model to explore the effects of wing topography and deformation, first by removing camber while keeping the same time-varying twist distribution, and second by removing camber and spanwise twist. The full-fidelity model achieved greater power economy than the uncambered model, which performed better than the untwisted model, showing that the details of insect wing topography and deformation are important aerodynamically. Such details are likely to be important in engineering applications of flapping flight.