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/content/aip/journal/adva/5/3/10.1063/1.4908027
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/content/aip/journal/adva/5/3/10.1063/1.4908027
2015-03-03
2016-06-26

Abstract

Mosquitoes possess a remarkable ability to stand effortlessly and walk freely on water surfaces because their six legs provide a large force to support the body weight. This study is focused on the role of the tarsus (the distal segment of the mosquito leg) because it was observed that normally only the tarsi make contact with water. The maximum value of the supporting force of the tarsus (6 mm long) in contact with water is estimated as 492 ± 5 μN, nearly 20 times the body weight of the mosquito, whereas the value for the whole leg (11 mm) is about 23 times the body weight. We demonstrate that the huge force provided by the tarsus originates from its flexibility, which ensures that the leg does not easily pierce the water. Adjustment of the initial stepping angle of the tarsus assists the mosquito to control the supporting force. These findings help to illustrate how mosquitoes stand or walk on water with only their tarsi in nearly horizontal contact with the water surface. Besides enhancing our understanding of mechanisms underlying “walking on water” by semi-aquatic insects, these investigations could provide inspiration for the biomimetic design of miniature robotics.

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