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Published July 2018 | public
Journal Article

Asymmetry in the jet opening: underwater jet vectoring mechanism by dragonfly larvae


Aquatic Anisopteran dragonfly larvae achieve respiration and propulsion by repetitive water jets flowing through their anal openings. Previous studies have shown that the tri-leaflet anal valves modulate the emerging jet by varying the opening size. We discovered that the valves are also capable of controlling the opening asymmetry by independent retraction of a leaflet. This study shows the effects of their valve asymmetry control on the respiratory and propulsive flows. Furthermore, the effects of size variation are re-evaluated using fluid momentum and power equations. Synchronized dual cameras recorded the valve movement and the flow generated by Aeshnidae sp. During the respiratory jetting, retraction of a single leaflet positions the opening in an off-centred locale, from which diagonally deflected jets emerge. The resulting flow field, together with the opening size modulation, implicates a reduction in the reinhalation of the exhaled jet and partial powering of the refilling process. Instead, during the propulsive jetting, concurrent partial retraction of the three leaflets results in the centred opening. The resulting jet flows straight, which has an implication for lowering form drag. Additionally, the propulsive aperture size control suggests improved thrust production. Our study highlights the significant influence that an asymmetrically positioned jet opening can have on biological jet flow. The findings inspire a new mechanism for jet vectoring that may prove useful for application in the broader engineering field.

Additional Information

© 2018 IOP Publishing Ltd. Received 15 February 2018; Accepted 3 May 2018; Published 30 May 2018.

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023