To get a peek at what happens under the elytra ( the ladybug's colourful wing cases), Kazuya Saito at the University of Tokyo and his colleagues have devised a clear prosthetic wing case. The team used UV-cured resin, much like the material used for long-lasting nail polish, and moulded it like real elytra.
The group fastened the artificial elytra onto an anaesthetised ladybird and used high-speed video to watch the insect fold its wings.
They found that prominent veins along the edge of the wings allow creases to form and fold the wings away in a complex, origami-like shape. A bend in the wing can drift down a vein as it gets folded, but the wing is ready to spring back to a rigid form when the elytra open.
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