zoologist who established much of our knowledge of the anatomical mechanisms
involved in insect flight.
Sutton-Pringle studied at Cambridge, where he spent his whole academic career.
Most insects have two hindwings and two forewings, and in many species each pair of wings acts in unison. Not all species use both pairs of wings for flight; in the housefly, for example, the hindwings are reduced in size and serve as balancing organs during flight.
Insect flight is achieved by simple up-and-down movements of the wings. In aphids, for example, these wing movements are brought about by the contractions of two separate sets of muscles. When moving through the air, the front edge of the wings remains rigid while the back edge bends. This causes the development of a localized region of high-pressure air behind the insect, which propels the insect forwards. The faster the wing beats, the greater the displacement of the posterior wing edges, the greater the pressure exerted on the insect from behind, and therefore the faster the insect flies.