Stunt flying

A fly's manoeuvrability is unrivalled and their reactions are 12 times faster than our own. This is because their ancestors gave up a pair of wings. All early insects had two pairs of wings similar to dragonflies today. In one type of insect, however, the hind wing shrank and evolved into tiny rod and ball structures called halteres. These are precision instruments that work a bit like gyroscopic stabilisers on a modern helicopter or plane. Flies come in a great variety of shapes and sizes. They include the hoverfly, crane fly, mosquito, and the housefly. And they all have halteres. Halteres give the fly precise feedback on its position, helping it make split-second adjustments without losing control.

Release date:


3 minutes


Role Contributor
PresenterSteve LEONARD
ProducerNigel BEAN

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