Complex hemolymph circulation patterns in grasshopper wings


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Nature Portfolio


An insect's living systems-circulation, respiration, and a branching nervous system-extend from the body into the wing. Wing hemolymph circulation is critical for hydrating tissues and supplying nutrients to living systems such as sensory organs across the wing. Despite the critical role of hemolymph circulation in maintaining healthy wing function, wings are often considered "lifeless" cuticle, and flows remain largely unquantified. High-speed fluorescent microscopy and particle tracking of hemolymph in the wings and body of the grasshopper Schistocerca americana revealed dynamic flow in every vein of the fore- and hindwings. The global system forms a circuit, but local flow behavior is complex, exhibiting three distinct types: pulsatile, aperiodic, and "leaky" flow. Thoracic wing hearts pull hemolymph from the wing at slower frequencies than the dorsal vessel; however, the velocity of returning hemolymph (in the hindwing) is faster than in that of the dorsal vessel. To characterize the wing's internal flow mechanics, we mapped dimensionless flow parameters across the wings, revealing viscous flow regimes. Wings sustain ecologically important insect behaviors such as pollination and migration. Analysis of the wing circulatory system provides a template for future studies investigating the critical hemodynamics necessary to sustaining wing health and insect flight. Study of grasshopper wings shows that hemolymph flows through every vein in the insect wing, creating a broad circuitous flow pattern in the wings, with three different flow behaviours (pulsatile, leaky, aperiodic).



schistocerca-gregaria, mechanical-properties, locust flight, insect flight, butterflies, biology, physics, organs