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Movement in the Air

Reference chapter

Question 2
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Study the information in the table and answer the questions which follow it.

Insect

speed
(m/s)

body mass
(mg)

wing surface
(mm2)

mass of wing muscles
(% of body mass)

wing beats
(beats/s)

housefly

2,0

12

20

10,7

180-330

honeybee

3,0

78

42

13,0

180-250

cabbage white butterfly

2,0

127

1840

7,0

9-12

dragonfly

8,0

530

1380

24,0

20-30

horsefly

8,0

276

184

17,0

96

hornet

6,0

567

260

10,6

110

cockchaffer beetle

2,5

962

642

11,0

46

hummingbird hawkmoth

5,0

345

400

14,0

72-85


QUESTIONS

(a) Which insect flies
(i) the fastest?
(ii) the slowest?

(b) For each insect, calculate the LOAD carried by its wings as it flies.

LOAD =

BODY MASS in mg
WING SURFACE in mm2

= mg/mm2

(The load in mg divided by the wing surface in mm2)

(c) Which insect has
(i) a heaviest wing loading?
(ii) a lightest wing loading?

(d) Compare the data for the cabbage white butterfly and the dragonfly. Which factor do you think allows the dragonfly to fly 4 times faster than the butterfly? Is it its body mass, its wing surface or its flight muscles? Give reasons for your answer.

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