Design in the Flight of Insects
When the subject of flight is considered, birds immediately
come to mind. However, birds are not the only creatures that can
fly. Many species of insects are equipped with flight capabilities
superior to those of birds. The Monarch butterfly can fly from North
America to the interior of Continental America. Flies and dragonflies
can remain suspended in the air.
Evolutionists claim that insects started flying 300 million
years ago. Nonetheless, they are not able to provide any conclusive
answers to fundamental questions such as: how did the first insect
develop wings, take flight or keep suspended in the air?
Evolutionists only claim that some layers of skin on
the body probably could have turned into wings. Aware of the unsoundness
of their claim, they also assert that the fossil specimens to verify
this assertion are not available yet.
Nevertheless, the flawless design of insect wings leaves
no room for coincidence. In an article entitled "The Mechanical
Design of Insect Wings" the English biologist Robin Wootton writes:
The better we understand the functioning of insect wings,
the more subtle and beautiful their designs appear... Structures
are traditionally designed to deform as little as possible; mechanisms
are designed to move component parts in predictable ways. Insect
wings combine both in one, using components with a wide range of
elastic properties, elegantly assembled to allow appropriate deformations
in response to appropriate forces and to make the best possible
use of the air. They have few if any technological parallels-yet.4
On the other hand, there is not a single fossil evidence
for the imaginary evolution of insects. That is what the famous
French zoologist Pierre Paul Grassé referred to when he stated,
"We are in the dark concerning the origin of insects."5
Now let us examine some of the interesting features of these creatures
that leave the evolutionists in complete darkness.
The Inspiration for the Helicopter:
The wings of the dragonfly cannot be folded back on its
body. In addition, the way in which the muscles for flight are used
in the motion of the wings differs from the rest of insects. Because
of these properties, evolutionists claim that dragonflies are "primitive
In contrast, the flight system of these so-called "primitive
insects" is nothing less than a wonder of design. The world's leading
helicopter manufacturer, Sikorsky, finished the design of one of
their helicopters by taking the dragonfly as a model.6
IBM, which assisted Sikorsky in this project, started by putting
a model of a dragonfly in a computer (IBM 3081). Two thousand special
renderings were done on computer in the light of the manoeuvres
of the dragonfly in air. Therefore, Sikorsky's model for transporting
personnel and artillery was built upon examples derived from dragonflies.
Gilles Martin, a nature photographer, has done a two
year study examining dragonflies, and he also concluded that these
creatures have an extremely complex flight mechanism.
Sikorsky helicopters were designed in
imitation of the flawless design and manoeuvr ability of a
The body of a dragonfly looks like a helical structure wrapped with
metal. Two wings are cross-placed on a body that displays a colour
gradation from ice blue to maroon. Because of this structure, the
dragonfly is equipped with superb manoeuvrability. No matter at
what speed or direction it is already moving, it can immediately
stop and start flying in the opposite direction. Alternatively,
it can remain suspended in air for the purpose of hunting. At that
position, it can move quite swiftly towards its prey. It can accelerate
up to a speed that is quite surprising for an insect: 25mph (40km/h),
which would be identical to an athlete running 100 metres in the
Olympics at 24.4mph (39km/h).
At this speed, it collides with its prey. The shock of
the impact is quite strong. However, the armoury of the dragonfly
is both very resistant and very flexible. The flexible structure
of its body absorbs the impact of collision. However, the same cannot
be said for its prey. The dragonfly's prey would pass out or even
be killed by the impact.
Following the collision, the rear legs of dragonfly take
on the role of its most lethal weapons. The legs stretch forward
and capture the shocked prey, which is then swiftly dismembered
and consumed by powerful jaws.
The sight of the dragonfly is as impressive as is its
ability to perform sudden manoeuvres at high speed. The eye of the
dragonfly is accepted as the best example among all the insects.
It has a pair of eyes, each of which features approximately thirty
thousand different lenses. Two semi-spherical eyes, each nearly
half the size of the head, provide the insect a very wide visual
field. Because of these eyes, the dragonfly can almost keep an eye
on its back.
Therefore, the dragonfly is an assemblage of systems,
each of which has a unique and perfect structure. Any malfunction
in any one of these systems would derail the other systems as well.
However, all of these systems are created without flaw and, hence,
the creature lives on.
The Wings of the Dragonfly
The most significant feature of the dragonfly is its
wings. However, it is not possible through a model of progressive
evolution to explain the flight mechanism that enables the use of
the wings. First, the theory of evolution is at a loss on the subject
of the origin of wings because they could only function if they
developed altogether at once, in order to operate correctly.
Let us assume, for a moment, that the genes of an insect
on land underwent a mutation and some parts of the skin tissue on
the body showed an uncertain change. It would be quite beyond reason
to suggest that another mutation on top of this change could "coincidentally"
add up to a wing. Furthermore, neither would the mutations to the
body provide a whole wing to the insect nor would it do any good
but decrease its mobility.
The chitin substance surrounding the body of insects is strong
enough to act as a skeleton, which in this insect, is formed
into a very eye-catching colour.
The insect, then, needs to carry extra load, which does
not serve any real purpose. This would put the insect at a disadvantage
against rivals. Moreover, according to the fundamental principle
of the theory of evolution, natural selection would have made this
handicapped insect and its descendants extinct.
Mutations, moreover, occur very seldom. They always harm
the creatures, leading to deadly sicknesses in most cases. This
is why it is impossible for small mutations to cause some formations
on the body of a dragonfly to evolve into a flight mechanism. After
all this, let us ask ourselves: even if we assume, against all odds,
that the scenario suggested by evolutionists might have been real,
why is it that the "primitive dragonfly" fossils which would give
substance to this scenario do not exist?
There is no difference between the oldest dragonfly fossils
and the dragonflies of today. There is no remains of "a half-dragonfly"
or a "dragonfly with newly emerging wings" that predates these oldest
Just as the rest of the life forms, the dragonfly, too,
appeared all at once and has not changed to this day. In other words,
it was created by Allah and never "evolved".
The skeletons of insects are formed by a tough, protective
substance, called chitin. This substance was created with enough
strength to form the exoskeleton. It is also flexible enough to
be moved by the muscles used for flight. The wings can move back
and forth or up and down. This motion of wings is facilitated by
a complex joint structure. The dragonfly has two pairs of wings,
one in a forward position with respect to the other. The wings operate
asynchronously. That is, while the two frontal wings ascend, the
back pair of wings descend. Two opposing muscle groups move the
wings. The muscles are tied to levers inside the body. While one
group of muscles pull up a pair of wings by contracting, the other
muscle group opens the other pair by reflexing. Helicopters ascend
and descend by a similar technique. This allows a dragonfly to hover,
go backward, or quickly change direction.
Metamorphosis of the Dragonfly
Female dragonflies do not mate again after fertilisation.
However, this does not create any problem for the males of the Calopteryx
Virgo species. By using the hooks on its tail, the male captures
the female by the neck. The female wraps her legs around the tail
of the male. The male, by using special extensions on its tail,
cleans any possible sperm left from another male. Then, he injects
his sperm into the female's reproductive cavity. Since this process
takes hours, they sometimes fly in this clenched position. The dragonfly
leaves the mature eggs in the shallows of a lake or a pool. Once
the nymph hatches from the egg, it lives in water for three to four
years. During this time, it also feeds in water . For this reason,
it was created with a body capable of swimming fast enough to catch
a fish and jaws powerful enough to dismember a prey. As the nymph
grows, the skin wrapping its body tightens. It sheds this skin at
four different times. When it is time for the final change, it leaves
the water and starts climbing a tall plant or a rock . It climbs
until its legs give in. Then, it secures itself by help of clamps
at the tips of its feet. One slip and a fall means death at that
This last phase differs from the previous four in that
Allah moulds the nymph into a flying creature through a wonderful
The back of the nymph cracks first. The crack widens
and becomes an open slot through which a new creature, totally different
from the preceding, struggles to get out. This extremely fragile
body is secured with ties that stretch from the previous creature.
These ties are created to have ideal transparency and flexibility.
Otherwise they would break and not be able to carry it, which could
mean that the larva could fall into the water and perish.
In addition, there are a series of special mechanisms
that help the dragonfly to shed its skin. The body of the dragonfly
shrinks and becomes wrinkled in the old body. In order to "open"
this body, a special pump system and a special body fluid are created
to be used in this process. These wrinkled body parts of the insect
are inflated by pumping body fluid after getting out through the
slot . In the meantime, chemical solvents start to break the ties
of the new legs with the old ones without damage. This process takes
place perfectly even though it would be devastating if only one
of the legs were stuck. The legs are left to dry and harden for
about twenty minutes before any testing.
The wings are fully developed already but are in a folded
position. The body fluid is pumped by firm contractions of the body
into the wing tissues . The wings are left drying after stretching
After it leaves the old body and dries out completely,
the dragonfly tests all the legs and wings. The legs are folded
and stretched one by one and wings are raised and lowered.
Finally, the insect attains the form designed for flight.
It is very hard for anyone to believe that this perfectly flying
creature is the same as the caterpillar-like creature that left
the water. The dragonfly pumps the excess fluids out, to balance
the system. The metamorphosis is complete and the insect is ready
One faces the impossibility of the claims of evolution
again when one tries by reasoning to find the origin of this miraculous
transformation. The theory of evolution claims that all creatures
came about through random changes. However, the metamorphosis of
the dragonfly is an extremely intricate process that leaves no room
for even a small error in any phase. The slightest obstacle in any
one of these phases would cause metamorphosis to be incomplete resulting
in the injury or death of dragonfly. Metamorphosis is truly an "irreducibly
complex" cycle and therefore is an explicit proof of design.
In short, the metamorphosis of dragonfly is one of the
countless evidences of how flawlessly Allah creates living things.
The wonderful art of Allah manifests itself even in an insect.
Mechanics of Flight
The wings of flies are vibrated according
to the electric signals conducted by the nerves. For example, in
a grasshopper each one of these nerve signals results in one contraction
of the muscle that in turn moves the wing. Two opposing muscle groups,
known as "lifters" and "sinkers", enable the wings to move up and
down by pulling in opposite directions.
The double balance wing system is found
to function in insects with less frequent flapping.
Grasshoppers flap their wings twelve to fifteen times
a second but smaller insects need a higher rate in order to fly.
For instance, while honeybees, wasps and flies flap their wings
200 to 400 times per second this rate goes up to 1000 in sandflies
and some 1mm long parasites.7 Another explicit
evidence of perfect creation is a 1mm long flying creature that
can flap its wings at the extraordinary rate of one thousand times
a second without burning, tearing or wearing out the insect.
When we examine these flying creatures a little closer,
our appreciation for their design multiplies.
It was mentioned that their wings are activated by means
of electrical signals conducted through the nerves. However, a nerve
cell is only capable of transmitting a maximum of 200 signals per
second. Then, how is it possible for the little flying insects to
achieve 1000 wing flaps per second?
The flies that flap wings 200 times per second have a
nerve-muscle relationship that is different from that of grasshoppers.
There is one signal conducted for each ten wing flaps. In addition,
the muscles known as fibrous muscles work in a way different from
the grasshopper's muscles. The nerve signals only alert the muscles
in preparation for the flight and, when they reach a certain level
of tension, they relax by themselves.
There is a system in flies, honeybees, and wasps that
transforms wing flaps into "automatic" movements. The muscles that
enable flight in these insects are not directly tied to the bones
of the body. The wings are attached to the chest with a joint that
functions like a pivot. The muscles that move the wings are connected
at the bottom and top surfaces of the chest. When these muscles
contract, the chest moves in the opposite direction, which, in turn,
creates a downward pull.
Relaxing a group of muscles automatically results in
contraction of an opposite group followed by relaxation. In other
words, this is an "automatic system". This way, muscle movements
continue without interruption until an opposite alert signal is
delivered through the nerves that control the system.8
Some flies flap their wings up to a
thousand times per second. In order to facilitate this extraordinary
movement, a very special system was created. Rather than directly
moving the wings, the muscles activate a special tissue to
which the wings are attached by a pivot-like joint. This special
tissue enables the wings to flap numerous times with a single
A flight mechanism of this sort could be compared to a clock that
works on the basis of a wound spring. The parts are so strategically
located that a single move easily sets the wings in motion. It is
impossible not to see the flawless design in this example. The perfect
creation of Allah is evident.
System Behind the Thrusting Force
It is not enough to flap wings up and down in order to
maintain smooth flight. The wings have to change angles during each
flap to create a force of thrust as well as an up-lift. The wings
have a certain flexibility for rotation depending on the type of
insect. The main flight muscles, which also produce the necessary
energy for flight, provide this flexibility.
For instance, in ascending higher, these muscles between
wing joints contract further to increase the wing angle. Examinations
conducted utilising high-speed film techniques revealed that the
wings followed an elliptical path while in flight. In other words,
the fly does not only move its wings up and down but it moves them
in a circular motion as in rowing a boat on water. This motion is
made possible by the main muscles.
The greatest problem encountered by insect species with
small bodies is inertia reaching significant levels. Air behaves
as if stuck to the wings of these little insects and reduces wing
Therefore, some insects, the wing size of which does
not exceed one mm, have to flap their wings 1000 times per second
in order to overcome inertia.
Researchers think that even this speed alone is not enough
to lift the insect and that they make use of other systems as well.
Dust flies require large amounts of energy in order to maintain
1000 flaps per second. This energy is found in the carbohydrate-rich
nutrients they gather from flowers. Because of their yellow
and black stripes and their resemblance to bees, these flies
manage to avoid the attention of many attackers.
As an example, some types of small parasites, Encarsia, make use
of a method called "clap and peel". In this method, the wings are
clapped together at the top of the stroke and then peeled off. The
front edges of the wings, where a hard vein is located, separate
first, allowing airflow into the pressurised area in between. This
flow creates a vortex helping the up-lift force of the wings clapping.9
A fly is 100 billion times smaller than an aircraft. Nevertheless,
it is equipped with a complex device functioning just like
a gyroscope and a horizontal leveller, which are vitally important
for flying. Its manoeuvrability and flight techniques, on
the other hand, are far superior to those of the plane.
There is another special system created
for insects to maintain a steady position in the air. Some flies
have only a pair of wings and round shaped organs on the back called
halteres. The halteres beat like a normal wing during flight but
do not produce any lift like wings do. The halteres move as the
flight direction changes, and prevent the insect from losing its
direction. This system resembles the gyroscope used for navigation
in today's aircraft.10
Many insects can fold their wings. When folded, the wings
are easily manoeuvred by the help of auxiliary parts on their
tips. The U.S. Air Force has produced E6B Intruder aircraft
with folding wings after being inspired by this example. While
bees and flies are able to fold their entire wings onto themselves,
the E6B can only fold one half of its wing over the other.
The wing joint is comprised of
a special protein, called resilin, which has tremendous flexibility.
In laboratories, chemical engineers are working to reproduce
this chemical, which demonstrates properties far superior
to natural or artificial rubber. Resilin is a substance capable
of absorbing the force applied to it as well as releasing
the entire energy back once that force is lifted. From this
point of view, the efficiency of resilin reaches the very
high value of 96%. This way, approximately 85% of the energy
used to lift the wing is stored and reused while lowering
it.11 The chest walls and muscles are also
built to help this phenomenon.
The figure, which indicates the route
travelled by a bee placed inside a glass cube, shows how successful
the bee is in flying in any direction including upward and
downward, in landings and take offs.
The figure on left shows the
manoeuvring capability of three aircraft that are considered
the best in their categories. However, flies and bees are
able to suddenly change course in any direction without reducing
speed. This example clearly demonstrates how weak the technology
of jet planes is in comparison with bees and flies.
The Respiratory System Special to Insects
Flies fly at extremely high speeds when compared to their
size. Dragonflies can travel as fast as 25 mph (40 km/h). Even smaller
insects can reach up to 31 mph (50km/h). These speeds are equivalent
to humans travelling at the speed of thousands of miles per hour.
Humans can only reach these speeds using jet planes. However, when
one considers the size of jet planes in comparison to the size of
humans it becomes clear that these flies actually fly faster than
Jets use very special fuels to power their high-speed
engines. The flight of flies, too, requires high levels of energy.
There is also a need for large volumes of oxygen in order to burn
this energy. The need for great amounts of oxygen is satisfied by
an extraordinary respiratory system lodged within the bodies of
flies and other insects.
This respiratory system works quite differently from
ours. We take air into our lungs. Here, oxygen mixes with the blood
and then is carried on to all parts of the body by the blood. The
fly's need of oxygen is so high that there is no time to wait for
the oxygen to be delivered to the body cells by the blood. To deal
with this problem, there is a very special system. The air tubes
in the insect's body carry the air to different parts of the fly's
body. Just like the circulatory system in the body, there is an
intricate and complex network of tubes (called the tracheal system)
that delivers oxygen-containing air to every cell of the body.
Thanks to this system, the cells that make up the flight
muscles take oxygen directly from these tubes. This system also
helps to cool down the muscles which function at such high rates
as 1000 cycles per second.
There is an extraordinary system created
in the bodies of flies and other insects in order to meet
the need for a high oxygen supply: Air, just as in blood circulation,
is carried directly into tissues by means of special tubes.
Above is an example of this system in
A) The windpipe of a grasshopper pictured
by an electron microscope. Around the walls of the pipe, there
is spiral reinforcement similar to that of the vacuum cleaner
B) Each windpipe tube delivers oxygen
to the cells of the insect's body and removes carbon dioxide.
It is evident that this system is an example of creation. No coincidental
process can explain an intricate design. It is also impossible for
this system to have developed in phases as suggested by evolution.
Unless the tracheal system is fully functional, no intermediate
stage could be to the advantage of the creature, but on the contrary,
would harm it by rendering its respiratory system non-functional.
All of the systems that we have explored so far uniformly
demonstrate that there is an extraordinary design to even the least
significant of creatures such as flies. Any single fly is a miracle
that testifies to the flawless design in the creation of Allah.
On the other hand, the "evolutionary process" espoused by Darwinism
is far from explaining how a single system in a fly develops.
In the Qur'an, Allah invites all humans to consider this
Mankind! An example has been made, so listen to
it carefully. Those whom you call upon besides Allah are not even
able to create a single fly, even if they were to join together
to do it. And if a fly steals something from them, they cannot get
it back. How feeble are both the seeker and the sought! (Surat al-Hajj:
"Mankind! An example
has been made, so listen to it carefully. Those whom you
call upon besides Allah are not even able to create a single
fly, even if they were to join together to do it... They
do not measure Allah with His true measure. Allah is All-Strong,
(Surat al-Hajj: 73-74)
"…THEY ARE NOT EVEN ABLE
TO CREATE A SINGLE FLY…"
Even a single fly is superior
to all the technological devices that mankind has produced.
Furthermore, it is a "living being". Aircraft and helicopters
are of use for an appointed time after which they are left
to rust. The fly, on the other hand, produces similar offspring.
housefly uses the labellum in its mouthpart to "quality
test" food before feeding. Unlike many creatures, flies
digest their food externally. It applies a solvent fluid
to the food. This fluid dissolves the food into a liquid
that the fly can suck. Then, the fly takes the liquid nutrients
into itself by means of the labella which gently dabs liquids
into its proboscis.
A fly can easily walk on the most slippery surfaces or stand
still on a ceiling for hours. Its feet are better equipped
to hold on to glass, walls and ceilings than those of a
climber. If the retractable claws are not enough, suction
pads on its feet attach it to the surface. The holding strength
of the suction has been increased with a specially applied
The flight of a housefly is
an extremely complex phenomenon. First, the fly meticulously
inspects the organs to be used in navigation. Then, it takes
position ready for flight by adjusting the balancing organs
in front. Lastly, it calculates the angle of take-off, dependent
on wind direction and velocity, by means of the sensors
on its antennae. Then it takes flight. But, all of these
happen within one hundredth of a second. Once airborne,
it can accelerate rapidly and reach a speed of 6 mph (10
For this reason, we could
well use the nickname "master of acrobatic flight" for it.
It can fly in extraordinary zigzags through the air. It
can take off vertically from where it stands. No matter
how slippery or uninviting the surface, it can land successfully
Another feature of this
magical master of flight is its ability to land on ceilings.
Because of gravity it shouldn't hold on but fall down. However,
it has been created with certain systems to render the impossible
possible. At the tip of its legs, there are minute suction
pads. In addition, these pads exude a sticky fluid when
in touch with a surface. This sticky fluid enables it to
remain attached to a ceiling. While approaching ceiling,
it stretches its legs forward and as soon as it senses the
touch of a ceiling it flips around and takes hold of the
ceiling's surface. The housefly has two wings. These wings,
that are halfway merged in the body and are comprised of
a very thin membrane intersected by veins, can be operated
independently from one another. However, while in flight
they move back and forth on one axis just as in single-winged
planes. The muscles enabling movement of the wings contract
at take-off and relax on landing. Although controlled by
nerves at the beginning of flight, these muscles and wing
movements become automatic after a while.
The housefly's eye is composed of
6000 hexagonally arranged eye structures, called ommatidia.
Since each ommatidium is directed in different directions,
e.g. forwards, backwards, beneath, above and on all sides,
the fly can see everywhere. In other words, it can sense
everything within a 360-degree visual field. Eight photo
receptors (light-receiving) neurons are attached to each
one of these units therefore the total number of sensor
cells in an eye is about 48,000. This is how it can process
up to one hundred images per second.
design of its wings gives a fly its superior flying skills.
The edges, surfaces and veins of these wings are covered
with highly sensitive sensory hairs which enable the fly
to detect airflow and mechanical pressures.
under the wings and on the back of its head send information
about the flight immediately to its brain. If the fly encounters
a new airflow during flight, these sensors promptly send
the necessary signals to the brain. The muscles, then, start
to direct the wings according to the new situation. That
is how a fly can detect another insect creating extra airflow
and can escape to safety most of the time. The housefly
moves its wings hundreds of times a second. The energy spent
during flight is roughly a hundred times that spent during
rest. From this point of view, we can say that it is a very
powerful creature because human metabolism can only spend
ten times as much energy in emergency situations in comparison
to during the normal tempo of life. In addition, a human
can maintain this energy expenditure for a maximum of only
a few minutes. In contrast, the housefly can sustain that
rhythm for up to half an hour and it can travel up to a
mile at the same speed.12
4. Robin J. Wootton, "The Mechanical
Design of Insect Wings", Scientific American, Volume 263, November
1990, page 120.
5. Pierre Paul Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms,
New York, Academic Press, 1977, p.30
6. "Exploring The Evolution of Vertical Flight at
The Speed of Light", Discover, October 1984, pp. 44-45.
7. Ali Demirsoy, Yasamin Temel Kurallari (Basic Fundamentals
of Life), Ankara, Meteksan AS., Volume II, Section II, 1992, p. 737.
8. Bilim ve Teknik Görsel Bilim ve Teknik Ansiklopedisi
(Encyclopedia of Science and Technology), Istanbul, Görsel Publications,
9. Bilim ve Teknik Görsel Bilim ve Teknik Ansiklopedisi
(Encyclopedia of Science and Technology) p. 2679.
10. Smith Atkinson, Insects, London, Research Press,
Volume I, 1989, p. 246.
11. Bilim ve Teknik Görsel Bilim ve Teknik Ansiklopedisi
(Encyclopedia of Science and Technology), p. 2678.
12. Dieter Schweiger, "Die Fliegen", GEO, April 1993,