Acta Mechanica Sinica

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 509–520 | Cite as

Dynamic flight stability of hovering model insects: theory versus simulation using equations of motion coupled with Navier–Stokes equations

  • Yan-Lai Zhang
  • Mao SunEmail author
Research Paper


In the present paper, the longitudinal dynamic flight stability properties of two model insects are predicted by an approximate theory and computed by numerical simulation. The theory is based on the averaged model (which assumes that the frequency of wingbeat is sufficiently higher than that of the body motion, so that the flapping wings’ degrees of freedom relative to the body can be dropped and the wings can be replaced by wingbeat-cycle-average forces and moments); the simulation solves the complete equations of motion coupled with the Navier–Stokes equations. Comparison between the theory and the simulation provides a test to the validity of the assumptions in the theory. One of the insects is a model dronefly which has relatively high wingbeat frequency (164 Hz) and the other is a model hawkmoth which has relatively low wingbeat frequency (26 Hz). The results show that the averaged model is valid for the hawkmoth as well as for the dronefly. Since the wingbeat frequency of the hawkmoth is relatively low (the characteristic times of the natural modes of motion of the body divided by wingbeat period are relatively large) compared with many other insects, that the theory based on the averaged model is valid for the hawkmoth means that it could be valid for many insects.


Insect Hovering Dynamic flight stability Averaged model Equations-of-motion Navier–Stokes simulation 


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ministry-of-Education Key Laboratory of Fluid Mechanics, Institute of Fluid MechanicsBeihang UniversityBeijingChina

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