Zenodo.org will be unavailable for 2 hours on September 29th from 06:00-08:00 UTC. See announcement.

Other Open Access

The role of blood viscosity in hovering flight of hawkmoths

Brasovs, Artis; Palaoro, Alexandre; Aprelev, Pavel; Beard, Charles; Adler, Peter; Kornev, Konstantin

Viscosity determines the resistance of hemolymph flow through vessels. For flying insects, viscosity is a major physiological parameter limiting flight performance by controlling the flow rate of fuel to the flight muscles, circulating nutrients, and rapidly removing metabolic waste products. The more viscous the hemolymph, the greater the metabolic energy needed to pump it through body cavities and hemolymph vessels. By employing Magnetic Rotational Spectroscopy with nickel nanorods, we showed that viscosity of hemolymph in resting hawkmoths (Sphingidae) depends on wing size non-monotonically. Viscosity increases for small hawkmoths with high wingbeat frequencies, reaches a maximum for middle-sized hawkmoths with moderate wingbeat frequencies, and decreases in large hawkmoths with slower wingbeat frequencies but greater lift. Accordingly, hawkmoths with small and large wings have viscosities approaching that of water, whereas hawkmoths with mid-sized wings have more than twofold greater viscosity. The metabolic demands of flight correlate with significant changes in circulatory strategies via modulation of hemolymph viscosity. Thus, the evolution of hovering flight would require fine-tuned viscosity adjustments to balance the need for the hemolymph to carry more fuel to the flight muscles while decreasing the viscous dissipation associated with its circulation.

Funding provided by: Division of Integrative Organismal Systems
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000154
Award Number: 2014664

Funding provided by: South Carolina EPSCoR
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100019747
Award Number: OIA-1655740

Funding provided by: National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100005825
Award Number: SC-1700527

Files (4.2 MB)
Name Size
4.2 MB Download
All versions This version
Views 1111
Downloads 33
Data volume 12.5 MB12.5 MB
Unique views 99
Unique downloads 33


Cite as