An astonishing new finding by scientists at the University of Tokyo could lead to some incredible innovations in the future.
Scientists have just stumbled upon something remarkable regarding the rather ordinary ladybug, or ladybird, beetles that wander around our yards and homes. Using high-speed cameras, CT scanners, and even nail-art supplies, Japanese scientists were able to unravel the incredibly elaborate method the bugs have to fold their wings and then tuck them away, which could lead to breakthroughs in many fields like aeronautics or even umbrellas.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It cracked the code on how ladybugs can have wings that are both strong enough to fly with, but also quickly collapsible.
What they found is that when they replaced the distinctive red and black wing cases with transparent ones, they were able to see the incredible way the wing folded up. They then used CT scans of folded and unfolded wwings to create a precise pattern of folds, and it very much resembled origami.
“The group, led by Assistant Professor Kazuya Saito of the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science, then used high-speed cameras to observe the hindwing’s folding and unfolding movements,” the statement reads. “The scientists found that the ladybugs skillfully use the edge and lower surface of the elytron, whose curvature fits the characteristic curve shape of hindwing veins, to fold the wings along crease lines, together with abdominal lifting movements resulting in the rubbing and pulling of the hindwings into their dorsal storage space.”
“I wasn’t sure if the ladybug could fold its wings with an artificial elytron made of nail-art resin,” says Saito. “So I was surprised when I found out it could.”