Eli5: How can insects fly in a moving car?


Yesterday a bee got stucked inside my car, while I was in the car I was moving with the car but the bee was flying around me very easily, I mean I kind of understand it but I need to understand it from physics’ point of view.

In: Physics

Here is a good example I found:

Inside the vehicle the insect has already attained the velocity of the car. It need not do anything to move at that speed. When it need to fly one or two meters to reach the front panel of your car it just need to fly this distance in its normal speed. (In effect the velocity of the insect at that time is the velocity of the car +/- the speed of the insect flying to the front or back of the car).

Suppose you carry an orange in your hand while traveling in a bullet train at 200 miles per hour the orange also gained the same velocity. If you hold the orange in your hand and just drop it down it will fall near your legs. But imagine a person standing outside the train and seeing only the orange as you drop it. He will see an orange that fly in the air at the speed of 200 miles per hour and slowly descending!

If you drop the orange inside the train it will fall down just below where you dropped it. But if you drop the orange outside the train the orange will be moving ahead and will fall on ground meters away from where you dropped it.


From you and the bee’s point of view unless you were accelerating/decelerating rapidly or doing sharp turns there was no g forces acting on either of you.
Also the bee in flight had no contact with any part of the car so essentially the air inside was the same as it being stationary from the bee’s point of view.

Everything in the car is moving at the same speed as the car, including the air.

If the car were to speed up or slow down very suddenly then it would struggle a bit. But then so would you: you would feel yourself sinking in to your seat or falling out a little. But at a constant speed, or close enough, you won’t feel anything and the bee can fly fine.

With the windows up I’d assume like normal. With a window or windows down it would probably get sucked out unless it flew stronger than the wind in the car.

Your car is moving. You’re in your car. Your car is pushing you forward, so you’re moving too.

Your car is moving. There’s air in the car. The car is pushing the air forward, so the air is moving too.

The air in the car is moving. There’s a bee in the moving air. The moving air is carrying the bee along, and everyone is moving just as fast as the car. So nobody seems to be moving, except the bee which is flying around in the moving air.