Praying Mantis & More! 15 Insects Flying in Slow Motion

When most people think of bugs, they conjure up images of irritating creatures that need to be kept at bay at all costs. The greater the distance between them, the better. Insects, particularly flying ones, have a peculiar beauty about them that becomes apparent when they are examined closely. With the use of a new slow-mo movie of flying insects, Dr. Adrian Smith, the Chief Scientist of the Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, demonstrates this distinct beauty to us.

Smith’s video, which is one of many available on the Ant Lab YouTube account, was picked up by the Laughing Squid. Smith is the host of the videos on the channel, and his calming voice is a wonderful complement for the slow-motion insects that appear in the videos. 

Smith demonstrates 15 distinct sorts of flying insect species in this new video he has released. The insects on display range from the Carolina Mantis to the ambrosia beetle, and each one is intriguing to watch in its own way. The Carolina Mantis is the most impressive of the bunch. Especially at 6,000 frames per second, which is a frame rate that precisely captures the way their tissue paper wings catch hold of the air and lift them out into the air.

Smith demonstrates at about the halfway point of the film how mites like to attach themselves on flying insects in order to go from one location to another. A phenomenon that is both fascinating and makes us want to squirt hand sanitizer in our eyes as soon as we see it occurs.

It’s difficult to choose which flying bug takes home the award for the cleanest takeoff, but each one has its own little absurd takeoff technique that deserves to be recognized. Among the observations made by Smith is that many weevils take flight using a “tripod” technique. Using this posture, the bugs prepare themselves by raising their middle legs, bringing their rear legs down, and raising one of their front legs. They then continue to leap into the air, as if they were the Karate Kid, and slam someone in the face with a Crane kick.

Ali Kaya


Ali Kaya

This is Ali. Bespectacled and mustachioed father, math blogger, and soccer player. I also do consult for global math and science startups.

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