Odor-Guided Navigation

The ability to track odor plumes to their source (food, mate, etc.) is key to the survival of many insects. During this odor-guided navigation, flapping wings could actively draw odorants to the antennae to enhance olfactory sensitivity, but it is unclear if improving olfactory function comes at a cost to aerodynamic performance. Here, we computationally quantify both aerodynamic and olfactory functions in the upwind surging flight of insectes.

Butterfly in Forward Flight

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Wake Structure

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Odor Concentration Field

Odor

Source

Fruitfly in Forward Flight

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Wake Structure

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Odor Concentration Field

Odor

Source

  1. Chengyu Li, Haibo Dong, and Kai Zhao, "A balance between aerodynamic and olfactory performance during flight in Drosophila," Nature Communications 9, 3215 (2018). [Link]

  2. Chengyu Li, "Effect of wing pitch kinematics on both aerodynamic and olfactory functions in an upwind surge," Journal of Mechanical Engineering Science, in press (2020). [Link]​

  3. Menglong Lei and Chengyu Li, “Numerical investigation of passive pitching mechanism in odor-tracking flights,” AIAA Aviation, Reno, Nevada, June 2020. [Link]​