Wing motion measurement and aerodynamics of hovering true hoverflies
Most hovering insects flap their wings in a horizontal plane (body having a large angle from the horizontal), called `normal hovering'. But some of the best hoverers, e.g. true hoverflies, hover with an inclined stroke plane (body being approximately horizontal). In the present paper, wing and body kinematics of four freely hovering true hoverflies were measured using three-dimensional high-speed video. The measured wing kinematics was used in a Navier–Stokes solver to compute the aerodynamic forces of the insects. The stroke amplitude of the hoverflies was relatively small, ranging from 65 to 85 deg, compared with that of normal hovering. The angle of attack in the downstroke (∼50 deg) was much larger that in the upstroke (∼20 deg), unlike normal-hovering insects, whose downstroke and upstroke angles of attack are not very different. The major part of the weight-supporting force (approximately 86%) was produced in the downstroke and it was contributed by both the lift and the drag of the wing, unlike the normal-hovering case in which the weight-supporting force is approximately equally contributed by the two half-strokes and the lift principle is mainly used to produce the force. The mass-specific power was 38.59–46.3 and 27.5–35.4 W kg–1 in the cases of 0 and 100% elastic energy storage, respectively. Comparisons with previously published results of a normal-hovering true hoverfly and with results obtained by artificially making the insects' stroke planes horizontal show that for the true hoverflies, the power requirement for inclined stroke-plane hover is only a little (<10%) larger than that of normal hovering.