Earwigs take origami to extremes to fold their wings | Science News

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Earwigs take origami to extremes to fold their wings

The insects’ springy wing joints are inspiring robotics design

By
2:10pm, March 22, 2018
earwig

WINGING IT  Earwigs don’t normally reveal their wings, but the folded-up appendages unfurl on demand and lock into place until refolded.

To quickly unfurl and refold their wings, earwigs stretch the rules of origami.

Yes, those garden pests that scurry out from under overturned flowerpots can also fly. Because earwigs spend most of their time underground and only occasionally take to the air, they pack their wings into packages with a surface area more than 10 times smaller than when unfurled, using an origami-like series of folds. Springy wing joints let the insects bypass some of the mathematical constraints that normally limit the way a rigid two-dimensional material can be folded, researchers report March 23 in Science.

Earwig wings’ folding pattern should be impossible according to mathematical equations that predict the three-dimensional designs that can be made by folding a two-dimensional material like a sheet of paper, says study coauthor Andres Arrieta, a mechanical engineer at Purdue University in

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