Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Mosquito's Defense

PostedJune 24, 2012

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Anchor Lede: Mosquitoes thrive in wet environments, which might seem strange in one respect. How do their fragile bodies survive the impact of raindrops fifty 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 it’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.