Friday, August 16, 2013

A sticky situation

The ability of Coccinellidae and other insects to cling to diverse surfaces

Coccinellidae (ladybugs or ladybirds if you are in the U.K.) have the ability to cling to a wide variety of surfaces just like spiderman! Understanding the microstructures of these insects has the potential for new product development for human use; such as Gecko®-Tape (developed based on the setae found on the toes of a gecko).

Researchers at Kiel University decided to find out. Using special microscopy techniques, they saw that each leg of the ladybug is equipped with fine adhesive hair. Different parts of the leg have varying material compositions and properties. The base is hard and stiff, while the tips are very soft and flexible, allowing the leg to adjust to different surfaces that results in better adhesion.

The protein resilin in the tips is responsible for the elasticity. Researchers stated that this protein is also present in wings and leg joints of insects. This ladybug hair composition is very complex and there is no current material available to reproduce it (SD, 2013).

To read the full study see the reference below.

Journal Reference:
Henrik Peisker, Jan Michels, Stanislav,. N. Gorb. Evidence for a material gradient in the adhesive tarsal setae of the ladybird beetle Coccinella septempunctata. Nature Communications, 2013; 4: 1661

Science Daily, 2013.

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