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Scientific Publication Citing Dragonfly

Extreme suction attachment performance from specialised insects living in mountain streams (Diptera: Blephariceridae)

Victor Kang (1), RobinT. White (2), Simon Chen (1), Walter Federle (1)
BioRxiv, October 2020. DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.30.320663


Biomechanics, adhesion, underwater adhesion, aquatic invertebrates, surface roughness


Suction is widely used by animals for strong controllable underwater adhesion but is less well understood than adhesion of terrestrial climbing animals. Here we investigate the attachment of an aquatic insect larva (Blephariceridae), which clings to rocks in torrential streams using the only known muscle-actuated suction organs in insects. We measured their attachment forces on well-defined rough substrates and found their adhesion was much less reduced by micro-roughness than terrestrial climbing insects. In vivo visualisation of the suction organs in contact with microstructured substrates revealed that they can mould around large asperities to form a seal. Moreover, we showed that spine-like microtrichia on the organ are stiff cuticular structures that only make tip contact on smooth and microstructured substrates. Our results highlight the performance and versatility of blepharicerid suction organs and introduce a new study system to explore biological suction.

How Our Software Was Used

Dragonfly was used for the segmentation and the 3D volume rendering of micro-CT images.

Author Affiliation

(1) Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, United Kingdom.
(2) Carl Zeiss Research Microscopy Solutions, Pleasanton, California, 94588, United States.

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