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How tiny insects survive the rain

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posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 04:32 AM
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I've always wonders what happens to an insect in a downpour. One of life's little mysteries. Photographs of insects covered in minuscule droplets have been seen before, but what about when they suffer a direct hit? —


A mosquito's tiny, low-weight body is the key to its ability to survive flying in the rain, according to scientists.

A team from the Georgia Institute of Technology filmed the insects as they collided with raindrops.

This showed that their bodies put up so little resistance that, rather than the drop of water stopping in a sudden, catastrophic splash, the mosquito simply combined with the drop and the two continued to fall together...









...As well as helping explain how the insects thrive in damp, humid environments, the research could ultimately help researchers to design tiny, flying robots that are just as impervious to the elements.

"I hope this will make people think a little bit differently about rain," said lead researcher David Hu.

"If you're small, it can be very dangerous. But it seems that these mosquitoes are so small that they're safe..."

...Each droplet was between two and 50 times the weight of a mosquito, so what they saw surprised them.

Describing the the results, Dr Hu cited the Chinese martial art of Tai chi.

"There is a philosophy that if you don't resist the force of your opponent, you won't feel it," he explained.

"That's why they don't feel the force; they simply join the drop, become one item and travel together."

When a moving object crashes into another, it is the sudden halt that produces a damage-causing force. For example, when a car hits a wall at 30mph, the stationary wall and the car have to absorb all of the energy carried by that moving car, causing a great deal of damage.

The trick for a mosquito is that it hardly slows the raindrop down at all, and absorbs very little of its energy.

Surviving the collision though, is not the end of the drama for a tiny insect. It has to escape from its watery cocoon before the droplet smashes the insect into the ground at more than 20mph.

This is where the insect's body, which is covered in water-repellent hairs, seems to give it another crucial survival technique.

Every mosquito studied in this experiment managed to separate itself from the water drop before it hit the ground.

Source

Boy, that's some feat of survival. Presumably they'd suffer repeated hits during a even a brief shower, too; but they effectively 'ride the storm' and just brush it all off on the fly. It's gotta be the ultimate roller coaster.

Anyone care to estimate the G-forces suffered when an object travelling parallel to the ground is suddenly carried downwards by an immovable force? And how long have they got to extract themselves if, say, a globule hits them a metre from a solid surface? (Presumably there comes a point at which there'd be insufficient time to extract oneself before being unceremoniously dumped and left in squalor.) Yet they triumph.

Nature never ceases to amaze...




posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 04:46 AM
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reply to post by pause4thought
 



Every mosquito studied in this experiment managed to separate itself from the water drop before it hit the ground.

Now that is fairly amazing imo. It was obvious they get stuck in the drops, but I didn't know they would be able to remove themselves from the droplets so quickly. I just assumed they would hit the ground and be cushioned by the water drop. S&F.



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 05:23 AM
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reply to post by ChaoticOrder
 


Indeed. It would be fascinating to see the video they made of the whole process. I can't find it online but perhaps they'll release it at some point. Meantime something is left to the imagination. What strikes me in particular is the speed at which it all happens!



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 06:05 AM
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reply to post by pause4thought
 

Here ya go.



Fun fact.

Mosquitoes are accelerated by 30-300 G for 1 ms.
Note: human tolerance is 25 G for 1.2 seconds (eyeballs out)

Yeah, thats quite the roller-coaster ride!

edit on 5/6/12 by LightSpeedDriver because: Fun fact



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 06:26 AM
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I've wondered this myself.
Great to finally have an answer.
Now if you can tell me where birds go during bad storms I won't have any questions left.



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 07:00 AM
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This is very cool, for I have always wondered how bugs can fly in the rain without being pelted to the ground. Of course, I never had the time nor high speed cameras and computer programs to figure it all out. It's fascinating, though I wonder why obviously years were spent on this.

I understand the search for knowledge for knowledge's sake, but still.....after all that time, they still didn't come up with any kind of solution to stop the little vampires from biting me with their dengue and malaria infected proboscis. To me that is a little more important.



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 07:14 AM
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reply to post by pause4thought
 


I always think about it, especially with ants. One hell of a life I tell ya, and we think we have it rough. Most ants can burrow or find shelter but does that mean 100% of the ants on concrete die?

edit on 5-6-2012 by DeadSnow because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 07:43 AM
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reply to post by LightSpeedDriver
 


Thanks for digging that out. Absolutely fascinating.

Now here's an irony: now that we've seen the action slowed down it does perhaps make the process more understandable; yet what I'd really like to understand is what these tiny creatures experience in real time — the problem being it's all far too small and fast for the human eye to follow. All in the blink of an eye, so to speak.

The icing on the cake is the fact they've already calculated the G-forces involved. 300G?!! Eat your heart out astronaut pretenders. You've got NOTHING on these fellas.



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 02:00 PM
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May I... Every animal on this planet has a purpose and a way to survive. What we may think as superhuman is in fact superhuman. Think about it though...we have the ability to find these things out and take time to think about them and then see if we can duplicate the results. So I sometimes you may need to think that our normal abilities are pretty awesome in themselves. Not to mention how well we adapt and help eachother when times are hard.



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 03:34 PM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 

For a detailed answer I could never hope to give...
answers.yahoo.com...



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 03:39 PM
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This doesn't mean you can survive being hit by a falling 2-ton boulder and resulting in a you-shaped hole through the boulder, à la Looney Tunes.

Unfortunately.
edit on 5-6-2012 by Tadeusz because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 03:43 PM
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reply to post by LightSpeedDriver
 


At 1:00 min you see a mosquito get owned by a water droplet hahaha, priceless



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 04:15 PM
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reply to post by Skywatcher2011
 

One of the most beautiful nature films ever made uses similar techniques. Microcosmos.



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 04:37 PM
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reply to post by Skywatcher2011
 



At 1:00 min you see a mosquito get owned by a water droplet hahaha


At 1:04 you read "Regardless of impact type, mosquitoes can recover and resume flight."

And the article itself states "Every mosquito studied in this experiment managed to separate itself from the water drop before it hit the ground."

I'd say the mosquitoes owned your schadenfreude.




Wonderful to hear from so many they share my fascination with this question. I suppose we can all sleep better tonight.



reply to post by LightSpeedDriver
 


Wonderful stuff! I'd love to see the full version.



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 09:18 PM
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Nice catch "Pause". "S&F" for you brother. As simple as this seems it is so very complex.



posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 10:14 PM
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reply to post by pause4thought
 


Wow that is pretty amazing! I turned on the bathtub faucet a little while ago and realized a little spider was skirting the edge of the water flow like a pro! I had to get him out before he was washed away..but maybe he didn't need my help!




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