Editors' ChoiceBiophysics

Two Wings Good, Four Wings Better

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Science's STKE  13 Feb 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 373, pp. tw56
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3732007tw56

Some flying insects have two wings, whereas others have four. The common housefly, which possesses two wings, makes use of the vestigial hindwing (the pendulum-shaped haltere) as a source of mechanosensory input to the neural centers that support stable flight. Sane et al. have asked whether moths, which have four wings, possess a similar kind of flight control mechanism. Instead, the antennae appear to serve a haltere-like function by providing mechanosensory input through hairs or bristles located at their base, whose deflections are translated into afferent neural signals.

S. P. Sane, A. Dieudonné, M. A. Willis, T. L. Daniel, Antennal mechanosensors mediate flight control in moths. Science 315, 863-866 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]

R. M. Alexander, Antennae as gyroscopes. Science 315, 771-772 (2007). [Summary] [Full Text]