Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 167, Issue 1, pp 145–154 | Cite as

Flight physiology of migrating Urania fulgens (Uraniidae) moths: kinematics and aerodynamics of natural free flight

  • R. Dudley
  • P. J. DeVries


Air speeds and wing kinematics were determined for the Neotropical moth Urania fulgens in natural migratory flight over Lake Gatun, Republic of Panama. Morphological parameters are presented for the same insects filmed in free flight. A quasi-steady aerodynamic analysis was used to show that unsteady mechanisms of lift generation are probably not necessary to produce the forces necessary for fast forward flight. Mechanical power requirements of forward flight were estimated from the biomechanical and morphological data. Over an airspeed range of 1.5 to 4.5 m/s, the mechanical power required to fly is predicted to increase dramatically with forward speed. A comparison of estimated metabolic rates with endogenous lipid reserves suggests that U. fulgens feeds extensively on flower nectar during migration from Central into South America.

Key words

Moth Flight Migration Kinematics Aerodynamics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verleg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Dudley
    • 1
  • P. J. DeVries
    • 1
  1. 1.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaRepublic of Panama

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