Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mosquitos fail at flight in heavy fog, though heavy rain doesn't faze them

Date:
November 19, 2012
Source:
American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics
Summary:
Mosquitos have the remarkable ability to fly in clear skies as well as in rain, shrugging off impacts from raindrops more than 50 times their body mass. But just like modern aircraft, mosquitos also are grounded when the fog thickens.

Mosquito. Mosquitoes have the remarkable ability to fly in clear skies as well as in rain, shrugging off impacts from raindrops more than 50 times their body mass. But just like modern aircraft, mosquitoes also are grounded when the fog thickens.
Credit: © Perytskyy / Fotolia

Mosquitoes have the remarkable ability to fly in clear skies as well as in rain, shrugging off impacts from raindrops more than 50 times their body mass. But just like modern aircraft, mosquitoes also are grounded when the fog thickens.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology present their findings at the 65th meeting of the American Physical Society's (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics, Nov. 18 -- 20, in San Diego, Calif.

"Raindrop and fog impacts affect mosquitoes quite differently," said Georgia Tech researcher Andrew Dickerson. "From a mosquito's perspective, a falling raindrop is like us being struck by a small car. A fog particle -- weighing 20 million times less than a mosquito -- is like being struck by a crumb. Thus, fog is to a mosquito as rain is to a human."

On average during a rainstorm, mosquitoes get struck by a drop once every 20 seconds, but fog particles surround the mosquito continuously as it flies. A mosquito's interaction with a raindrop is therefore brief, but the interaction with fog particles is continuous and inescapable once the mosquito is in a fog cloud.

Regardless of their abundance, water droplets in a fog cloud are so small that they should not weigh down a mosquito enough to affect its ability to fly.

To explore this puzzle, Dickerson and his colleague David Hu used high-speed videography. They observed that mosquitoes have a reduced wing-beat frequency in heavy fog, but retain the ability to generate sufficient force to lift their bodies, even after significant dew deposition. They are unable, however, to maintain an upright position required for sustainable flight.

The reason for this is the impact that fog has on a mosquito's primary flight control mechanism. Known as halteres, these small knobbed structures evolved from the hind wings and flap anti-phase with the wings and provide gyroscopic feedback through Coriolis forces (the perpendicular force generated by a rotating object).

These halteres are on a comparable size to the fog droplets and they flap approximately 400 times each second, striking thousands of drops per second. Though the halteres can normally repel water, repeated collisions with 5-micron fog particles hinders flight control, leading to flight failure.

"Thus the halteres cannot sense their position correctly and malfunction, similarly to how windshield wipers fail to work well when the rain is very heavy or if there is snow on the windshield," said Dickerson. "This study shows us that insect flight is similar to human flight in aircraft in that flight is not possible when the insects cannot sense their surroundings." For humans, visibility hinders flight; whereas for insects it is their gyroscopic flight sensors."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics. "Mosquitos fail at flight in heavy fog, though heavy rain doesn't faze them." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119104522.htm>.
American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics. (2012, November 19). Mosquitos fail at flight in heavy fog, though heavy rain doesn't faze them. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119104522.htm
American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics. "Mosquitos fail at flight in heavy fog, though heavy rain doesn't faze them." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119104522.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins