Scientist Movies Uncommon Flying Bugs in Excessive Gradual Movement


The rosy maple moth flies.

Summer is full of insects, while moths hover around the porch lights and fireflies glow in the night. While you’ve likely spotted these creatures in passing, fascinating video footage will bring you a whole new appreciation for them. North Carolina-based research biologist Dr. Adrian Smith catches these and other insects in extreme slow motion flight. The footage shows creatures from eight taxonomic orders that take off, flutter and land in a tiny “studio”. The result is a ballet of bugs full of unexpected grace and beauty.

Dr. Smith set the stage for the various species by setting up a black light in his basement. Then he filmed the creatures at 3,200 frames per second. Some of the insects are the well-known eastern firefly, which is technically a beetle. In preparation for flight he has to lift his elytra (hard fore wing) to reveal his translucent hind wings. Fireflies flap these wings 62 times per second to keep afloat. Another more common insect is the rosy maple moth. As Dr. Smith says the species is “clearly the best moth”. Cartoon-like and fluffy, they are the teddy bear of the moth world. “It looks like a flying muppet,” notes Dr. Smith.

The black light also attracted some rare flies. In the video, the giant stonefly (also known as the salmon fly) shows its special wing movements. Scientists suggest that these movements may have enabled prehistoric stoneflies to glide over the surface of water before a true flight was achieved in the air. Despite the name of the giant stonefly, the fish fly is actually the largest registered visitor. The forewings measure 37.6 mm and flap 11 times per second. These are remarkably few blows for such a large insect.

Check out the video below and be amazed by what you see.

The researcher Dr. Adrian Smith filmed rare insects that flew at 3,200 frames per second in extremely slow motion.

Painted lichen moth

The painted lichen moth rolls its wing tips while flying.

Watch fireflies, moths and aphids fly in this video.

Dr. Adrian Smith: website | YouTube | Twitter
h / t: [PetaPixel, Colossal]

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