Periodic and chaotic flapping of insectile wings
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Insects use flight muscles attached at the base of the wings to produce impressive wing flapping frequencies. The maximum power output of these flight muscles is insufficient to maintain such wing oscillations unless there is good elastic storage of energy in the insect flight system. Here, we explore the intrinsic self-oscillatory behavior of an insectile wing model, consisting of two rigid wings connected at their base by an elastic torsional spring. We study the wings behavior as a function of the total energy and spring stiffness. Three types of behavior are identified: end-over-end rotation, chaotic motion, and periodic flapping. Interestingly, the region of periodic flapping decreases as energy increases but is favored as stiffness increases. These findings are consistent with the fact that insect wings and flight muscles are stiff. They further imply that, by adjusting their muscle stiffness to the energy level at which they are operating, insects can maintain periodic flapping mechanically for a range of operating conditions.
KeywordsEuropean Physical Journal Special Topic Aerodynamic Force Point Vortex Flight Muscle Torsional Spring
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