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The influence of surface energy on the self-cleaning of insect adhesive devices




Orchard, M J
Kohonen, Mika
Humphries, S

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The Company of Biologists Ltd


The ability of insects to adhere to surfaces is facilitated by the use of adhesive organs found on the terminal leg segments. These adhesive pads are inherently 'tacky' and are expected to be subject to contamination by particulates, leading to loss of function. Here, we investigated the self-cleaning of ants and beetles by comparing the abilities of both hairy and smooth pad forms to selfclean on both high and low energy surfaces after being fouled with microspheres of two sizes and surface energies. We focused on the time taken to regain adhesive potential in unrestrained Hymenopterans (Polyrhachis dives and Myrmica scabrinodis) and Coccinellids (Harmonia axyridis and Adalia bipunctata) fouled with microspheres. We found that the reattainment of adhesion is influenced by particle type and size in Hymenopterans, with an interaction between the surface energy of the contaminating particle and substrate. In Coccinellids, reattainment of adhesion was only influenced by particle size and substrate properties. The adhesive organs of Coccinellids appear to possess superior self-cleaning abilities compared with those of Hymenopterans, although Hymenopterans exhibit better adhesion to both surface types.



Keywords: microsphere; adhesion; animal; ant; article; beetle; biomechanics; grooming; histology; limb; motor activity; particle size; physiology; scanning electron microscopy; species difference; surface property; ultrastructure; United Kingdom; Adhesiveness; Anim Adhesion; Free surface energy; Frictional forces; Insect ecology; Self-cleaning



Journal of Experimental Biology


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