The Origami-Like Folds of Ladybug Wings Could Lead to Better Umbrellas

Ladybugs are compact little beetles, but their wings are surprisingly large when unfurled from beneath their spotted shells. And as Sarah Knapton at The Telegraph reports, researchers have long puzzled over how ladybugs can fold their wings up so tightly. So scientists in Japan decided to get a better look, replacing the spotted forewing, known as an elytron, with a transparent piece of resin. What they learned could help engineers design foldable solar collectors or even a new type of umbrella.

Kazuya Saito, Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science, designs foldable structures—so insect wings are a natural interest. “Compared with other beetles, ladybugs are very good at flying and frequently take off,” he tells Bryson Masse at Gizmodo. “I thought their wing transformation systems are excellent and have large potential for engineering.”

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