Gravity and active acceleration limit the ability of killer flies (Coenosia attenuata) to steer towards prey when attacking from above

Rossoni, S, Fabian, ST, Sutton, G and Gonzalez-Bedillo, PT (2021) Gravity and active acceleration limit the ability of killer flies (Coenosia attenuata) to steer towards prey when attacking from above. Journal of the Royal Society: Interface, 18 (178). p. 20210058. ISSN 1742-5662

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2021.0058

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Gravity and active acceleration limit the ability of killer flies (Coenosia attenuata) to steer towards prey when attacking from above.
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Abstract

Insects that predate aerially usually contrast prey against the sky and attack upwards. However, killer flies (Coenosia attenuata) can attack prey flying below them, performing what we term 'aerial dives'. During these dives, killer flies accelerate up to 36 m/s2. Although the trajectories of the killer fly's dives appear highly variable, proportional navigation explains them, as long as the model has the lateral acceleration limit of a real killer fly. The trajectory's steepness is explained by the initial geometry of engagement; steep attacks result from the killer fly taking off when the target is approaching the predator. Under such circumstances, the killer fly dives almost vertically towards the target, and gravity significantly increases its acceleration. Although killer flies usually time their take-off to minimise flight duration, during aerial dives killer flies cannot reach the lateral accelerations necessary to match the increase in speed caused by gravity. Since a close miss still leads the predator closer to the target, and might even slow the prey down, there may not be a selective pressure for killer flies to account for gravity during aerial dives.

Keywords:invertebrate, flight, biomechanics
Subjects:H Engineering > H441 Flight Mechanics
C Biological Sciences > C100 Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:47234
Deposited On:09 Nov 2021 16:49

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