Thursday, April 06, 2017
Mosquitoes as Winged Wonders?
Please God, no! I have seen the magnificent Peregrine falcon in flight, and the remarkable diving of gannets. Hummingbirds never cease to amaze me, nor puffins to amuse me. I'm very fond of the disappearing bumble bee and dragonflies are mesmerizing. But am I expected to come to an appreciation of the...MOSQUITO?! While Nature magazine appears to be saying yes, I will be a "hard sell." I've slogged along too many portages where it was impossible to smack the lil buggers feasting on me to ever marvel at their abilities in flight, or anything else about them. Although...
The swirling lines in the cover image reveal the instantaneous direction of air flow induced by a mosquito’s flapping wings. Richard Bomphrey and his colleagues show that the remarkably high wingbeat frequencies and shallow stroke amplitudes used by mosquitoes lead to novel aerodynamic mechanisms. Like most insects, the mosquito generates lift from leading-edge vortices, but this is augmented by trailing-edge vortices, which capture energy left over from previous wingbeats. This exquisitely timed rotational mechanism may explain the unusually high aspect ratio of mosquito wings, as it allows the insect to maximize the aerodynamic force along their wingspan.
This is pretty cool, and I can begrudgingly concede that this is yet another creature which is "fearfully and wonderfully made" to quote the psalmist, although a lot heavier on the fearful. When we sing "all God's critters have a place in the choir, some sing lower, come sing higher" I never think of the whine of a mosquito as I'm attempting to fall asleep in a tent. Never.
God, I'm going to need a lot more convincing.