Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Mosquito Trick

PostedMay 23, 2019

Download File (mp3)

Anchor Lede: The start of summer…back to thunderstorms and mosquitoes. Ever wonder how mosquitoes’ fragile bodies survive the impact of raindrops that are 50 times their weight?

Randy Atkins: Mosquitoes have long wings and legs, so they just get momentarily spun in the air when a raindrop applies a glancing blow, says David Hu, a Georgia Tech engineer.  He used high speed videos that show even in a direct hit, because the insect’s so light…

David Hu: …the mosquito and the drop they sort of join together and they fall together for about 5 to 20 body lengths before separating.

Randy Atkins: That’s only a problem very close to the ground.  So Hu says engineers making tiny robotic fliers could mimic a mosquito’s light-weight design to reduce the force of any impacts and…

David Hu: …we think if designers build in these long appendages they’ll basically allow them to always separate from the colliding object without even trying.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.