The Mosquitoes Unique Flying Techniques Amaze Researchers

April 3, 2017 | Posted In: Mosquito

The Mosquitoes Unique Flying Techniques Amaze Researchers

When it comes to mosquitoes most people are aware that they spread a multitude of diseases, but most people do not know much about mosquitoes beyond this fact. This is a shame since mosquitoes possess many unique features. Believe it or not most researchers are only now learning about the strange way in which mosquitoes fly. It turns out that no other insect flies in the way that mosquitoes fly.

  • Male mosquitoes flap their wings at the astounding rate of eight hundred times per second, which is four times faster than the rate at which other flying insects flap their wings. You may have noticed that mosquitoes don’t necessarily look like they are using their wings to fly as much as it looks like they are floating in the air. Mosquitoes often appear to be hovering over objects in the air, and there are many unusual techniques that make this manner of flying possible.

According to mosquito expert Richard Bomphrey, mosquitoes are able to stay aloft in the air by using energy that is left over from preceding wing strokes. Most insects, as well as many birds and some bats, create miniature tornadoes that scientists call leading-edge vortices.  Mosquito wings have a sharp edge at the end that splits the airflow in two, which, in turn, creates a bubble of swirling air that helps keep the wider part of their wings afloat. This unique flying activity creates low-pressure air above the mosquito’s wings, and high-pressure air below the mosquito’s wings, which generates lift and creates the appearance of floating.

Bomphrey and his colleagues also discovered that the unique flying techniques demonstrated by mosquitoes create a high-pitched tone that attracts mates. Therefore the mosquito’s super fast wing-flapping likely evolved in order to drive sexual selection instead of achieving a more efficient manner of flying.

Which other flying insects have you seen hover in the air as opposed to flying in a particular direction?