Allometry of wing twist and camber in a flower chafer during free flight: How do wing deformations scale with body size?

Yonatan Meresman, Gal Ribak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intraspecific variation in adult body mass can be particularly high in some insect species, mandating adjustment of the wing’s structural properties to support the weight of the larger body mass in air. Insect wings elastically deform during flapping, dynamically changing the twist and camber of the relatively thin and flat aerofoil. We examined how wing deformations during free flight scale with body mass within a species of rose chafers (Coleoptera: Protaetia cuprea) in which individuals varied more than threefold in body mass (0.38-1.29 g). Beetles taking off voluntarily were filmed using three high-speed cameras and the instantaneous deformation of their wings during the flapping cycle was analysed. Flapping frequency decreased in larger beetles but, otherwise, flapping kinematics remained similar in both small and large beetles. Deflection of the wing chord-wise varied along the span, with average deflections at the proximal trailing edge higher by 0.2 and 0.197 wing lengths compared to the distal trailing edge in the downstroke and the upstroke, respectively. These deflections scaled with wing chord to the power of 1.0, implying a constant twist and camber despite the variations in wing and body size. This suggests that the allometric growth in wing size includes adjustment of the flexural stiffness of the wing structure to preserve wing twist and camber during flapping.

Original languageEnglish
Article number171152
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - 18 Oct 2017


  • Coleoptera
  • Dynamic bending
  • Flapping flight
  • Flexural stiffness
  • Insect wings

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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