Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Beetles in rubber boots: Scientists study ladybugs' feet

Date:
August 14, 2013
Source:
Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel
Summary:
During their evolution, insects have developed various unique features to survive in their environment. The knowledge of the working principles of insects’ microstructures holds great potential for the development of new materials, which could be of use to humans. With this idea scientists have investigated how insects manage to efficiently cling to diverse surfaces.

Adhesive hair of a seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) – made visible with a scanning electron microscope (above) and a confocal laser scanning microscope (bottom). Structures with a high proportion of resilin are depicted in blue.
Credit: Jan Michels

During their evolution, insects have developed various unique features to survive in their environment. The knowledge of the working principles of insects' microstructures holds great potential for the development of new materials, which could be of use to humans. With this idea in mind, Dr. Jan Michels, a scientist at the Institute of Zoology at Kiel University, investigates how insects manage to efficiently cling to diverse surfaces. Michels and his colleagues recently published their new findings on the adhesive structures of ladybirds in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Related Articles


A lot of insects are able to climb up walls or walk upside down on surfaces. The new study shows for the first time what astonishing materials allow for these abilities. Using special microscopy techniques, confocal laser scanning microscopy and atomic force microscopy, Michels and his colleagues investigated the legs of ladybirds. "Each leg is equipped with fine adhesive hair, which enable the insect to cling to surfaces in a most impressive way," explains Michels. "Our results show that different parts of the single hair feature varying material compositions and properties. While the bases are relatively hard and stiff, the material in the tips of every single hair is rather soft and flexible." The scientists assume that this enables the tips to adjust to uneven surfaces resulting in a better adhesion to rough substrates.

The research team composed of Dr. Jan Michels, Dr. Henrik Peisker and Professor Stanislav Gorb came upon these findings by visualising the protein resilin, which is responsible for the softness and elasticity of the hair tips. This protein is present in many insect structures with strong resilience properties such as wings, leg joints and, as shown now, adhesive hair of ladybirds.

Increasing scientific knowledge of nature's tricks represents important fundamental research for the future development and improvement of surface active materials. The scientists can imagine to optimise the basic material used for the so-called Gecko®-Tape, which was developed and characterised by Stanislav Gorb and his team in cooperation with their industry partner. However, the material composition of the ladybird's adhesive hair is so complex that there is currently no material available, which would make such a reproduction possible. "Nature is a ladybird's step ahead of us," jokes Jan Michels. He sets his hopes on materials scientists: "It's their turn now."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Henrik Peisker, Jan Michels, Stanislav N. Gorb. Evidence for a material gradient in the adhesive tarsal setae of the ladybird beetle Coccinella septempunctata. Nature Communications, 2013; 4: 1661 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2576

Cite This Page:

Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel. "Beetles in rubber boots: Scientists study ladybugs' feet." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130814144746.htm>.
Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel. (2013, August 14). Beetles in rubber boots: Scientists study ladybugs' feet. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130814144746.htm
Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel. "Beetles in rubber boots: Scientists study ladybugs' feet." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130814144746.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will New A350 Help Airbus Fly?

Will New A350 Help Airbus Fly?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Qatar Airways takes first delivery of Airbus' new A350 passenger jet. As Joel Flynn reports it's the planemaker's response to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the culmination of eight years of development. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Parachutes Off Lawn Chair Airlifted By Helium Balloons

Man Parachutes Off Lawn Chair Airlifted By Helium Balloons

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) — A BASE jumper rides a lawn chair, a shotgun, and a giant bunch of helium balloons into the sky in what seems like a country version of the movie 'Up." Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
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
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
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