Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Walk (on Water) like a Mosquito

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Walk (on Water) like a Mosquito

Article excerpt

Small, semiaqueous arthropods, such as mosquitoes and water striders, are free to go about their waterborne business thanks to their unique leg-based adaptations, which repel water and allow them to float freely on the surface.

By examining the forces that the segments of mosquito legs generate against a water surface, researchers at the China University of Petroleum (Huadong) and Liaoning University of Technology have unraveled the mechanical logic that allows the mosquitoes to walk on water, which may help in the design of biomimetic structures, such as aquatic robots and small boats.

"The current analyses deepen our understanding of the mechanisms of water-walking of these aquatic insects," says Jianlin Liu, a professor of engineering mechanics at the China University of Petroleum. They describe their current research in the journal AIP Advances.

Mosquitoes land on still bodies of water to lay their eggs just under the surface, where the embryos hatch and develop into pupae, eventually emerging from the water as mature adults to continue the cycle.


A mosquito leg consists of three segments coated in gridlike, microscopic, hydrophobic scales: A stiff femur juts out from the insect's abdomen and connects at a joint to an equally stiff tibia, which branches into a long, flexible tarsus. Previous measurements of the ability of water surfaces to support insects had largely ignored the tarsus, however, focusing instead on whole legs. …

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