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Design of Insect Flight


When the subject of flight is considered, birds immediately come to mind.

However, birds are not the only creatures that can fly. Many species of insects are equipped with flight capabilities superior to those of birds. The Monarch butterfly can fly from North America to the interior of Continental America. Flies and dragonflies can remain suspended in the air.

Evolutionists claim that insects started flying 300 million years ago. Nonetheless, they are not able to provide any conclusive answers to fundamental questions such as: how did the first insect develop wings, take flight or keep suspended in the air?

Evolutionists only claim that some layers of skin on the body probably could have turned into wings. Aware of the unsoundness of their claim, they also assert that the fossil specimens to verify this assertion are not available yet.

Nevertheless, the flawless design of insect wings leaves no room for coincidence. In an article entitled "The Mechanical Design of Insect Wings" the English biologist Robin Wootton writes:

  The better we understand the functioning of insect wings, the more subtle and beautiful their designs appear... Structures are traditionally designed to deform as little as possible; mechanisms are designed to move component parts in predictable ways. Insect wings combine both in one, using components with a wide range of elastic properties, elegantly assembled to allow appropriate deformations in response to appropriate forces and to make the best possible use of the air. They have few if any technological parallels–yet. 1

On the other hand, there is not a single fossil evidence for the imaginary evolution of insects. That is what the famous French zoologist Pierre Paul Grassé referred to when he stated, "We are in the dark concerning the origin of insects." 2 Now let us examine some of the interesting features of these creatures that leave the evolutionists in complete darkness.


Mechanics of Flight

The double balance wing system is found to function in insects with less frequent flapping.

The wings of flies are vibrated according to the electric signals conducted by the nerves. For example, in a grasshopper each one of these nerve signals results in one contraction of the muscle that in turn moves the wing. Two opposing muscle groups, known as "lifters" and "sinkers", enable the wings to move up and down by pulling in opposite directions.

Grasshoppers flap their wings twelve to fifteen times a second but smaller insects need a higher rate in order to fly. For instance, while honeybees, wasps and flies flap their wings 200 to 400 times per second this rate goes up to 1000 in sandflies and some 1mm long parasites. 3 Another explicit evidence of perfect creation is a 1mm long flying creature that can flap its wings at the extraordinary rate of one thousand times a second without burning, tearing or wearing out the insect.

When we examine these flying creatures a little closer, our appreciation for their design multiplies.

It was mentioned that their wings are activated by means of electrical signals conducted through the nerves. However, a nerve cell is only capable of transmitting a maximum of 200 signals per second. Then, how is it possible for the little flying insects to achieve 1000 wing flaps per second?

The flies that flap wings 200 times per second have a nerve-muscle relationship that is different from that of grasshoppers. There is one signal conducted for each ten wing flaps. In addition, the muscles known as fibrous muscles work in a way different from the grasshopper's muscles. The nerve signals only alert the muscles in preparation for the flight and, when they reach a certain level of tension, they relax by themselves.

There is a system in flies, honeybees, and wasps that transforms wing flaps into "automatic" movements. The muscles that enable flight in these insects are not directly tied to the bones of the body. The wings are attached to the chest with a joint that functions like a pivot. The muscles that move the wings are connected at the bottom and top surfaces of the chest. When these muscles contract, the chest moves in the opposite direction, which, in turn, creates a downward pull.

Some flies flap their wings up to a thousand times per second. In order to facilitate this extraordinary movement, a very special system was created. Rather than directly moving the wings, the muscles activate a special tissue to which the wings are attached by a pivot-like joint. This special tissue enables the wings to flap numerous times with a single stroke.

Relaxing a group of muscles automatically results in contraction of an opposite group followed by relaxation. In other words, this is an "automatic system". This way, muscle movements continue without interruption until an opposite alert signal is delivered through the nerves that control the system. 4

A flight mechanism of this sort could be compared to a clock that works on the basis of a wound spring. The parts are so strategically located that a single move easily sets the wings in motion. It is impossible not to see the flawless design in this example. The perfect creation of God is evident.


System Behind the Thrusting Force

It is not enough to flap wings up and down in order to maintain smooth flight. The wings have to change angles during each flap to create a force of thrust as well as an up-lift. The wings have a certain flexibility for rotation depending on the type of insect. The main flight muscles, which also produce the necessary energy for flight, provide this flexibility.

For instance, in ascending higher, these muscles between wing joints contract further to increase the wing angle. Examinations conducted utilising high-speed film techniques revealed that the wings followed an elliptical path while in flight. In other words, the fly does not only move its wings up and down but it moves them in a circular motion as in rowing a boat on water. This motion is made possible by the main muscles.

The greatest problem encountered by insect species with small bodies is inertia reaching significant levels. Air behaves as if stuck to the wings of these little insects and reduces wing efficiency greatly.

Therefore, some insects, the wing size of which does not exceed one mm, have to flap their wings 1000 times per second in order to overcome inertia.

Researchers think that even this speed alone is not enough to lift the insect and that they make use of other systems as well.


As an example, some types of small parasites, Encarsia, make use of a method called "clap and peel". In this method, the wings are clapped together at the top of the stroke and then peeled off. The front edges of the wings, where a hard vein is located, separate first, allowing airflow into the pressurised area in between. This flow creates a vortex helping the up-lift force of the wings clapping. 5

There is another special system created for insects to maintain a steady position in the air. Some flies have only a pair of wings and round shaped organs on the back called halteres. The halteres beat like a normal wing during flight but do not produce any lift like wings do. The halteres move as the flight direction changes, and prevent the insect from losing its direction. This system resembles the gyroscope used for navigation in today's aircraft.



The wing joint is comprised of a special protein, called resilin, which has tremendous flexibility. In laboratories, chemical engineers are working to reproduce this chemical, which demonstrates properties far superior to natural or artificial rubber. Resilin is a substance capable of absorbing the force applied to it as well as releasing the entire energy back once that force is lifted. From this point of view, the efficiency of resilin reaches the very high value of 96%. This way, approximately 85% of the energy used to lift the wing is stored and reused while lowering it. 6

The chest walls and muscles are also built to help this phenomenon.

Dust flies require large amounts of energy in order to maintain 1000 flaps per second. This energy is found in the carbohydrate-rich nutrients they gather from flowers. Because of their yellow and black stripes and their resemblance to bees, these flies manage to avoid the attention of many attackers.

The Respiratory System Special to Insects

Flies fly at extremely high speeds when compared to their size. Dragonflies can travel as fast as 25 mph (40 km/h). Even smaller insects can reach up to 31 mph (50km/h). These speeds are equivalent to humans travelling at the speed of thousands of miles per hour. Humans can only reach these speeds using jet planes. However, when one considers the size of jet planes in comparison to the size of humans it becomes clear that these flies actually fly faster than aeroplanes.

Jets use very special fuels to power their high-speed engines. The flight of flies, too, requires high levels of energy. There is also a need for large volumes of oxygen in order to burn this energy. The need for great amounts of oxygen is satisfied by an extraordinary respiratory system lodged within the bodies of flies and other insects.

This respiratory system works quite differently from ours. We take air into our lungs. Here, oxygen mixes with the blood and then is carried on to all parts of the body by the blood. The fly's need of oxygen is so high that there is no time to wait for the oxygen to be delivered to the body cells by the blood. To deal with this problem, there is a very special system. The air tubes in the insect's body carry the air to different parts of the fly's body. Just like the circulatory system in the body, there is an intricate and complex network of tubes (called the tracheal system) that delivers oxygen-containing air to every cell of the body.

Thanks to this system, the cells that make up the flight muscles take oxygen directly from these tubes. This system also helps to cool down the muscles which function at such high rates as 1000 cycles per second.


There is an extraordinary system created in the bodies of flies and other insects in order to meet the need for a high oxygen supply: Air, just as in blood circulation, is carried directly into tissues by means of special tubes.
Above is an example of this system in grasshoppers:

A) The windpipe of a grasshopper pictured by an electron microscope. Around the walls of the pipe, there is spiral reinforcement similar to that of the vacuum cleaner hose.

B) Each windpipe tube delivers oxygen to the cells of the insect's body and removes carbon dioxide.

It is evident that this system is an example of creation. No coincidental process can explain an intricate design. It is also impossible for this system to have developed in phases as suggested by evolution. Unless the tracheal system is fully functional, no intermediate stage could be to the advantage of the creature, but on the contrary, would harm it by rendering its respiratory system non-functional.

All of the systems that we have explored so far uniformly demonstrate that there is an extraordinary design to even the least significant of creatures such as flies. Any single fly is a miracle that testifies to the flawless design in the creation of God. On the other hand, the "evolutionary process" espoused by Darwinism is far from explaining how a single system in a fly develops.

Article courtesy of

1. Robin J. Wootton, "The Mechanical Design of Insect Wings", Scientific American, Volume 263, November 1990, page 120.
2. Pierre Paul Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms, New York, Academic Press, 1977, p. 30
3. Ali Demirsoy, Yasamin Temel Kurallari (Basic Fundamentals of Life), Ankara, Meteksan AS., Volume II, Section II, 1992, p. 737.
4. Bilim ve Teknik Görsel Bilim ve Teknik Ansiklopedisi (Encyclopedia of Science and Technology), Istanbul, Görsel Publications, p. 2676.
5. Bilim ve Teknik Görsel Bilim ve Teknik Ansiklopedisi (Encyclopedia of Science and Technology) p. 2679.
Gorsel Bilim ve Teknik Ansiklopedisi: Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, p. 2678