Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How Do Mosquitoes Survive Rainstorms?

Raindrops are to mosquitoes what falling VW Beetles would be to humans. Yet incredibly--maddeningly--mosquitoes survive rainstorms all the time. How? 

  

Imagine you are walking through a park and suddenly thousands of Volkswagen Beetles start falling from the sky. They are falling at a speed that is five times as fast as you can run, so dodging them is not an option. Game over for you, right? Not if you’re a mosquito. Sure, a raindrop is to the pesky insect what a Volkswagen would be to us, but mosquitoes have some natural advantages in this scenario that humans don’t.

The secret to a mosquito’s survival during a rainstorm isn’t due to any fancy maneuvers or midair acrobatics. It is a combination of their low mass, hydrophobic wings, and go-with-the-flow mentality, according to David Hu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Hu has researched mosquitoes’ flight behavior in rainy conditions to better understand the limits of micro-airborne vehicles (MAVs). These tiny robot airplanes can be as small as an insect, so understanding how mosquitoes survive collisions with raindrops can help scientist develop more reliable MAVs.

Understanding how mosquitoes survive collisions with raindrops can help scientist develop more reliable MAVs.“There is still a question of how to build these things and once you build them what their limits are,” Hu says. A mosquito can provide some solutions to these limits—providing ideas for how MAVs can be better adapted to in-air collisions.

For the rest of the story: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-06/fyi-how-do-mosquitoes-survive-rainstorm

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