New Study Shows Cicada Jumping Droplets Phenomenon

By Jessica Rawden 2013-05-01 12:59:42
The cicadas are set to come out of the woodworks this year in droves for the first time in 17 long years. The East Coast, especially, and parts of the Midwest will be covered by those loud and annoying little creatures, but their oddball hibernation patterns are probably not the strangest quirks about the insects. Researchers have recently found that cicadas have unique wing cleaning capabilities, using a process the researchers call “jumping droplets.”

“Jumping droplets” inspires images of big fat chunks of raindrops splashing against concrete, but the process in cicadas is actually far more fascinating. A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the cicada’s odd body shape keeps it from being able to clean its wings. To combat this, the wings of cicadas have developed small bumps. As noted by Nature World News, when water droplets, found throughout nature, make contact with the cicada’s wings, the water just hangs out on the bump, held in place by the air trapped underneath the bump.

In order to determine all of this, images were captured by high speed video cameras, showing the droplets on the wings of the cicadas. In effect, the tiny water droplets help to “jump clean” the wings of the insects, thus giving the process its name. The cleaning process was found to remove contaminates and could potentially, in the future, propel the development of self-cleaning processes for human use. While self-cleaning processes would be kind of cool, I also get the feeling they would be kind-of wet.

Photo Credit@Shutterstock/nednapa
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