Remote radio control of insect flight reveals why beetles lift their legs in flight while other insects tightly fold

Takumi Kosaka, Jia Hui Gan, Le Duc Long, Shinjiro Umezu*, Hirotaka Sato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In the research and development of micro air vehicles, understanding and imitating the flight mechanism of insects presents a viable way of progressing forward. While research is being conducted on the flight mechanism of insects such as flies and dragonflies, research on beetles that can carry larger loads is limited. Here, we clarified the beetle midlegs' role in the attenuation and cessation of the wingbeat. We anatomically confirmed the connection between the midlegs and the elytra. We also further clarified which pair of legs are involved in the wingbeat attenuation mechanism, and lastly demonstrated free-flight control via remote leg muscle stimulation. Observation of multiple landings using a high-speed camera revealed that the wingbeat stopped immediately after their midlegs were lowered. Moreover, the action of lowering the midleg attenuated and often stopped the wingbeat. A miniature remote stimulation device (backpack) mountable on beetles was designed and utilized for the free-flight demonstration. Beetles in free flight were remotely induced into lowering (swing down) each leg pair via electrical stimulation, and they were found to lose significant altitude only when the midlegs were stimulated. Thus, the results of this study revealed that swinging down of the midlegs played a significant role in beetle wingbeat cessation. In the future, our findings on the wingbeat attenuation and cessation mechanism are expected to be helpful in designing bioinspired micro air vehicles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036001
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May


  • electrical stimulation
  • flight mechanism
  • free flight
  • insect flight
  • insect leg
  • remote radio control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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