Namib Desert beetle
||This article needs attention from an expert in insects. The specific problem is: This article is supposed to be specifically about Stenocara gracilipes, but it confuses several "fog adapted" beetles in the Namibian region – see the talk page for more (additionally, both Onymacris unguicularis and Stenocara gracilipes redirect to this article, but they're separate species). (May 2013)|
|Namib Desert beetle|
|Wikispecies has information related to: Namib Desert beetle|
The Namib Desert beetle (Stenocara gracilipes) is a species of beetle that is native to the Namib Desert of southern Africa. This is one of the most arid areas of the world, receiving only 1.4 centimetres (0.55 in) of rain per year. The beetle is able to survive by collecting water on its bumpy back surface from early morning fogs.
To drink water, the S. gracilipes stands on a small ridge of sand using its long, spindly legs. Facing into the breeze, with its body angled at 45°, the beetle catches fog droplets on its hardened wings. Its head faces upwind, and its stiff, bumpy outer wings are spread against the damp breeze. Minute water droplets (15-20 µm in diameter) from the fog gather on its wings; there the droplets stick to hydrophilic (water-loving) bumps, which are surrounded by waxy, hydrophobic troughs. Droplets flatten as they make contact with the hydrophilic surfaces, preventing them from being blown by wind and providing a surface for other droplets to attach. Accumulation continues until the combined droplet weight overcomes the water's electrostatic attraction to the bumps as well as any opposing force of the wind; in a 30 km/h breeze, such a droplet would stick to the wing until it grows to roughly 5 mm in diameter; at that point it will roll down the beetle's back to its mouthparts.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have emulated this capability by creating a textured surface that combines alternating hydrophobic and hydrophilic materials. Potential uses include extracting moisture from the air and creating fog-free windows and mirrors. A company called NBD Nano is attempting to commercialize the technology.
- Parker, A. R. & C. R. Lawrence (2001). "Water capture by a desert beetle". Nature 414 (6859): 33–34. doi:10.1038/35102108. PMID 11689930.
- Harries-Rees, Karen (August 31, 2005). "Desert beetle provides model for fog-free nanocoating". Chemistry World News (Royal Society of Chemistry).
- "Stenocara beetle". Biomimicry Guild. Retrieved 2006-12-14.