Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How long do insects last?

Date:
May 8, 2013
Source:
Trinity College Dublin
Summary:
Researchers have shown that although insects are made from one of the toughest natural materials, their legs and wings can wear out over time.

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have shown that although insects are made from one of the toughest natural materials, their legs and wings can wear out over time. The findings have been just published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Related Articles


"The single biggest cause of failure in cars, airplanes and other mechanical structures is material fatigue," said Dr. Jan-Henning Dirks, who studied the biomechanics of insects together with Eoin Parle and Professor David Taylor at Trinity's Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering. "For quite some time it has been known that this kind of fatigue behaviour easily happens in some materials, but far less in others. That's why engineers are constantly looking for ideas to design safer, more durable types of materials."

But until now nothing was known about the fatigue properties of the second-most common natural material in the world: insect cuticle.

Insects are regarded as one of the most diverse groups of animals in the world, yet they have one thing in common: they all are made from a material called cuticle. "The insects' exoskeleton supports them in a way our bones support our body," said Dirks. "At the same time the cuticle also acts as a kind of protective skin. Cuticle is an extremely versatile biological material. If we understood how it acts under repeated loads, we might be able to design more durable biomimetic materials for many kinds of applications."

As a first step, the team looked at the cuticle of the desert locust. "These locusts are capable of flying across oceans and deserts, often for days or weeks at a time," said Parle, who is writing his PhD thesis about the mechanical properties of insect cuticle. "Their wings beat hundreds of thousands of times, and with their hind legs they perform thousands of jumps."

To measure the fatigue properties of the cuticle, the team took samples of the legs and wings and mechanically simulated the repeated loading that occurs in wing beats and during jumping. The researchers were able to show that both structures can withstand hundreds of thousands of cycles, with the legs being notably more resistant to fatigue. "Our results also show that due to their shape and fibrous material the legs are very well adapted to withstand the types of failure that might occur in jumping and kicking," said Parle.

"For the first time, we now actually know that insect cuticle shows material fatigue after repeated loading." said Taylor. "These results are obviously just a first step. Studying insect cuticle is not only thought-provoking from the engineering point of view, where our findings might help us to develop more durable composite materials. Our results are also interesting from the biological perspective, where we can learn more about how insects evolved to become one of the most successful groups of animals."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Trinity College Dublin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J.-H. Dirks, E. Parle, D. Taylor. Fatigue of insect cuticle. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2013; 216 (10): 1924 DOI: 10.1242/%u200Bjeb.083824

Cite This Page:

Trinity College Dublin. "How long do insects last?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130508131743.htm>.
Trinity College Dublin. (2013, May 8). How long do insects last?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130508131743.htm
Trinity College Dublin. "How long do insects last?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130508131743.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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