Is it working? Now, a team of researchers has gained deeper insight into how the texture on the insect’s body helps it collect water. The wing covers of the Namib desert beetle gather water from the air using nanoscale bumps. In the Namib Desert fog represents an alternative water source. Several researchers are studying the beetles, as well as synthetic surfaces inspired by the beetle’s body, to uncover the roles that structure, chemistry, and behavior play in capturing water from the air. The beetle is able to survive by collecting water on its bumpy back surface from early morning fogs. When the Namib Desert beetle (Stenocara gracilipes) “fog basks,” water droplets hit its abdomen and roll down its body. Practice biomimicry or advance your biomimicry concept with our support. How useful beetle-inspired technologies will be outside of the lab remains to be seen, Boreyko says. Some of these construct sand trenches or ridges to catch the fog, while Onymacris unguicularis and O. bicolor instead utilise their own body surface as a fog water collector [7-9]. A small start up company, inspired by a desert beetle, is using nano technology to develop a self-filling water bottle. To understand what was going on at a microscopic level, King reached out to animal movement expert Mattia Gazzola and his graduate student Fan Kiat Chan at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Such materials might also be fashioned into a bottle that could refill itself using water from the air. Micro-sized grooves or bumps on the beetle’s hardened forewings can help condense and direct water toward the beetle’s awaiting mouth, while a combination of hydrophilic (water attracting) and hydrophobic (water repelling) areas on these structures may increase fog- and dew-harvesting efficiency. But their water-collecting tricks just might help engineers design surfaces that can stay free of ice and frost in colder places. Fog-basking behaviour and water collection efficiency in Namib Desert Darkling beetles Abstract. Watch roots from different plants compete for prime real estate underground, Tasmanian devils claw their way back from extinction, Giant hornets on the attack? The Namibian Beetle (Stenocara gracilipes) lives in one of the driest deserts in the world, the Namib on the southwest coast of Africa, but obtains all of the water it needs … Namib desert beetles live in an area with little ground water, so how is it that they have no trouble finding H2O? “You have to ask, ‘Can you actually scale this beetle approach to something large enough to collect enough water that actually matters on a human level?’”. Gazzola’s lab specializes in hydrodynamic simulations. Explore biological intelligence organized by design and engineering functions. But first, the beetle must collect the droplets. In this issue: What Forces are at Work Here? It’s difficult to make two things touch each other.”. The two researchers created a computer model to see how different hydrodynamic forces acting on the water drops made them more or less likely to stick to a sphere’s textured surface. NBD Nano … It has a pattern of water-attracting and water-repelling molecules on its back that form of peaks and troughs. Water balance and osmoregulation in Physadesmia globosa, a diurnal tenebrionid beetle from the Namib desert, Fog-basking behaviour and water collection efficiency in Namib Desert Darkling beetles, Hamilton III, William J.; Henschel, Joh R.; Seely, Mary, Irregular fog as a water source for desert dune beetles, J. Guadarrama-Cetina, A. Mongruel, M. -G. Medici, E. Baquero, A. R. Parker, I. Milimouk-Melnytchuk, W. González-Viñas, D. Beysens, Fog Catchment Sand Trenches Constructed by Tenebrionid Beetles, Lepidochora, from the Namib Desert, Long-term data show behavioural fog collection adaptations determine Namib Desert beetle abundance. A US start-up has turned to nature to help bring water to arid areas by drawing moisture from the air Of course, humans need more water to survive than does the Namib beetle. The overview of this field is limited and mainly concerned with the preparation and applica Recent Review Articles Windblown water (blue arrow) becomes a drink for a carefully positioned Namib Desert beetle. Chhatre and his associates want to use a similar principle to harvest drinking water for humans. Seely, M. K.; Lewis, C. J.; O'Brien, K. A.; Suttle, A. E. Fog basking by the Namib Desert beetle, Onymacris unguicularis, Patterned Superhydrophobic Surfaces:  Toward a Synthetic Mimic of the Namib Desert Beetle, Lei Zhai, Michael C. Berg, Fevzi Ç. Cebeci, Yushan Kim, John M. Milwid, Michael F. Rubner, Robert E. Cohen, Adaptation and Constraint in the Evolution of the Physiology and Behavior of the Namib Desert Tenebrionid Beetle Genus Onymacris, Nature's moisture harvesters: a comparative review, F T Malik, R M Clement, D T Gethin, W Krawszik, A R Parker, Fog-harvesting inspired by the Stenocara beetle—An analysis of drop collection and removal from biomimetic samples with wetting contrast, Beatrice White, Anjishnu Sarkar, Anne-Marie Kietzig, We use cookies to give you the best browsing experience. In the arid Namib Desert on the west coast of Africa, one type of beetle has found a distinctive way of surviving. Since 2008, an evolving team at Biomimicry Institute has been hard at work developing and curating content that helps innovators find inspiration in nature. From the surface coverage of the condensed drops it was found that dew forms primarily in the valleys between the bumps. This unique behaviour is termed fog-basking [7]. King and his team used 3D printing to create several spheres with varying surface textures—bumpy, grooved, and smooth—and tested them in a specially designed wind tunnel to see how much water they could pull out of the foggy breeze. In some dry areas like the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, residents have been harvesting fog for years. The difference in droplet nucleation rate between bumps and valleys can be attributed to the hexagonal microstructure on the surface of the valleys, whereas the surface of the bumps is smooth. In the Namib desert there is a fog that comes in and when it does the beetle gets it's water that it needs. Some species of Darkling Beetles live in the dry Namib desert and have evolved modification that help them collect water from the fog that condenses on their elytra. Development of unique Australian COVID-19 vaccine halted, FDA panel backs Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, paving way for emergency use in the United States, China launches gamma ray–hunting satellites to trace sources of gravitational waves, Scientists are rethinking where life originated on Earth, These shrews can shrink and regrow their brains, Breast milk contains coronavirus antibodies, study suggests, Hurricanes are retaining their strength after reaching land, study suggests, Ecologists push for more reliable research, Scientists rally around plan for fusion power plant, American Association for the Advancement of Science. A US startup is developing a self-filling water bottle that sucks moisture from the atmosphere to create condensation, in the same way the humble Namib desert beetle does. “The Namib Desert has a remarkably high variety of Darkling beetles (Tenebrionidae) and a handful of them actively exploit fog for water intake [5,6]. Learn More. AAAS is a partner of HINARI, AGORA, OARE, CHORUS, CLOCKSS, CrossRef and COUNTER. The Namib Desert beetle gets its water from fog. The Namib Desert beetle harvests moisture from the air to survive A US start-up has turned to nature to help bring water to arid areas by drawing moisture from the air. The Desert beetle uses a unique method to capture airborne water on its shell. In the blazing heat of the Namib Desert, the water droplets on a beetle’s bumpy back certainly aren’t at risk of freezing. Scientists in Australia are developing an entirely different fog collection strategy modeled after the Stenocara beetle of the Namib Desert.The Namib Desert in southwest Africa is one of the driest places on earth, receiving less than 2 centimeters of rain annually, but night and morning fog from the Atlantic Ocean are the lifeblood of the desert’s flora and fauna. Since, you know, beetles aren't made of mesh. The Paris climate pact is 5 years old. In this episode I talk about how in Ethiopia they are actually getting water from thin air. Less time collecting water means more time in class. So, Hunter King, a physicist at the University of Akron in Ohio, and colleagues focused instead on how the shape and texture of the beetles increased the amount of water droplets they could capture from the air to begin with. Raising darkling beetles from larvae through adulthood can be a rewarding biology project for lower school educators. They use mesh that routes water into pipes, which transport it back to the village. We use cookies to give you the best browsing experience. The Namib beetle (Stenocara gracilipes) has a specially designed shell with bumps on it that attract and catch water droplets from the morning fog that rolls in. Create passive devices to collect water in dessicated environments for local consumption particularly in poor countries or for anyone needing to spend time in desert environments. When droplets form on a smooth surface, they appear at random, all over the place. FULL STORY Organisms such as cacti and desert beetles can survive in arid environments because they've evolved mechanisms to collect water from thin air. Facing into the breeze, with its body angled at forty-five degrees, the beetle catches fog droplets on its hardened wings. By adopting a head standing posture facing into the wind, the fog water … According to MIT News, the Namib beetle uses a finely tuned water processing system that is the envy of water engineers. Shifting the focus of the beetle research to how the insects are able to collect so much fog is a good move, says Jonathan Boreyko, a biomechanical engineer at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, who was not involved with the work. Inspired by Namib Desert beetles, scientists designed biomimetic fog collection materials to obtain fresh water. If researchers can manipulate these properties to create more efficient beetle-inspired materials, Chan says, engineers could design a water-collection device for refugee tents that could catch water droplets from the wind. Namib Desert beetle has unique bumps on its shells. © 2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Stenocara gracilipes is a species of beetle that is native to the Namib Desert in southern Africa. For years, scientists have tried to learn the insect’s secrets to help provide clean water to communities in water-stressed areas. In order for this beetle to survive it needs water. Researchers have spent decades trying to discover how the insect’s surface transports the droplets to its mouth. One group of researchers looked to the Stenocara, or Namib desert beetle, for a solution. Find out more about our cookie policy here. If there is always a thin film of water, droplets were less likely to stick to it. Long term studies on the population density of Darkling beetles in the Namib Desert clearly shows that the fog collecting beetles are still present in great numbers during periods of low rain fall, whereas the large majority of Darkling beetles that lack this adaptation disappear or decline to less than 1% of their mean abundance [5].” (Norgaard and Dacke 2010:1-2), “…we investigated…the wetting and structural properties, of the surface of the elytra of a preserved specimen of Physasterna cribripes (Tenebrionidæ) beetle, where the macro-structure appears as a series of “bumps”, with “valleys” between them. So, based on the formula, the Namib Desert beetle shouldn't be able to do what it does. Still, fog remains a hard-to-capture resource, Chan says, and even a slight increase in efficiency might benefit thirsty communities. “The Namib Desert has a remarkably high variety of Darkling beetles (Tenebrionidae) and a handful of them actively exploit fog for water intake [5,6]. By adopting a head standing posture facing into the wind, the fog water collects on their elytra and runs down to their mouth, to be imbibed by the beetles. The water droplets start to form on the tips and then flow off the waxy bumps to be collected by the beetle. 2014). The drops can slide when they reach a critical size, and be collected at the insect’s mouth.” (Guadarrama et al. How does this beetle collect its water? Darkling beetles (family Tenebrionidae) of the Namib Desert, located on the southwest coast of Africa, live in one of the driest habitats in the world. Dew formation experiments were carried out in a condensation chamber. Try a little water buffalo poop, Researchers decry Trump picks for education sciences advisory board. Shreerang Chhatre was inspired by the Namib Beetle, an insect that collects water droplets on bumps on its back, then drinks them when they roll down to its mouth. Click/tap images for attribution and license information. Clean water and proper toilets at school means teenage girls don’t have to stay home for a week out of every month. The cold Benguela current runs along … Women Empowerment Women are responsible for 72% of the water collected in Sub-Saharan Africa. mage caption The Namib Desert beetle harvests moisture from the air to survive . Exploring fog as a supplementary water source in Namibia, E.S Shanyengana, J.R Henschel, M.K Seely, R.D Sanderson, Fog response of tenebrionid beetles in the Namib Desert. For certain species of Darkling beetle, the act of facing into the foggy wind and sticking its rear end up in the air (known as fog-basking behavior) is thought to be just as important as body surface structure for successfully harvesting water from the air. One important factor was how lubricated the surface is, the team discovered. The shell of the Namib Beetle is hydrophobic with hydrophilic spots to attract water. by Adelheid Fischer; a portfolio by David Goodsell; Interview with Annick Bay; and Envisioning Biomimicry Through an Ontological Lens by Colleen K. Unsworth, Thibaut Houette, Sarah J. McInerney, Austin M. Garner, and Peter H. Niewiarowski. The beetle’s built-in water collection system allows it to survive in one of the driest climates on Earth. All rights Reserved. Some of these construct sand trenches or ridges to catch the fog, while Onymacris unguicularis and O. bicolor instead utilise their own body surface as a fog water collector [7-9]. The beetles’ construction enables it to survive by collecting water on its bumpy back surface from the early morning fog. To survive in the arid wilderness of southwestern Africa, the Namib Desert beetle harvests water from thin air. Its morning routine includes standing atop a sand ridge and facing the wind at … This aspect of the beetle’s water collection process has long been overlooked, he notes. Deckard Sorensen, co-founder of NBD Nano, tells host Steve Curwood how studying the Namib Desert Beetle helped them to develop new technologies for collecting water. The blueberry-size, long-legged insect leans its bumpy body into the wind, letting droplets of fog accumulate and drip down its wing case into its mouth. The advantage of fog collection for water intake in the extremely arid desert is obvious, and becomes critical when rainfall is absent over prolonged periods of time. The Namib Desert beetle is famous for its ability to collect water and survive in one of the driest and hottest places on Earth. 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… They found that bumpy surfaces were fog magnets: A sphere with 1-millimeter lumps on its surface caught droplets with nearly 2.5 times the efficiency of a smooth sphere with the same surface area. Shortage of water resources and deterioration of water quality are becoming more and more serious today. The microscopic texture of the surface—how smooth or rough it was on the micrometer level—also influenced the behavior of the droplets, the scientists report this week in a presentation at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics annual meeting in Seattle, Washington. However, Namib Desert beetles use a different harvesting mechanism than trees do. The droplets stick there to hydrophilic bumps, which … The surface properties (infra-red emissivity, wetting properties) were dominated by the wax at the elytra surface and, to a lower extent, its micro-structure… Dew formation occurred on the insect’s elytra, which can be explained by these surface properties. 5. Water is a scarce commodity in dry regions so scientists have come up with an ingenious way of collecting water from fog to provide relief to people living in these areas. Find out more about our cookie policy. In this harsh conditions the Namib Desert beetle has evolved to be a skilled fog water collector, so skilled that is now a guide and an inspiration source for many new inventions. The idea is borrowed from a beetle that lives in the desert and is able to keep itself alive by trapping water on its body, the Namib or Darkling beetle. Desert beetle and cactus inspire material that collects water from the air One group combined water collecting traits from the awesome Namib desert beetle, cactus and pitcher plant to … To survive in the arid wilderness of southwestern Africa, the Namib Desert beetle harvests water from thin air. The Namib desert beetle lives in one of the most arid environments on Earth. It might seem easy to catch fog, “but if you’re trying to grab it, it goes right through your fingers,” King says. “That’s the whole problem. Gravity then takes over, and aided by water-repellent troughs between the bumps, the droplets run down the wing covers and into the beetle’s mouth. The Namib Desert beetle survives by collecting moisture from the air. When the morning fog rolls in, the Stenocara gracilipes species, also known as the Namib Beetle, collects water droplets on its bumpy back, then lets the moisture roll down into its mouth, allowing it to drink in an area devoid of flowing water. Learn how your comment data is processed. This is utilised by Darkling beetles... Background. Don Ingber and the Theory of Cell Tensegrity by Tom McKeag; a portfolio by Myoung Ho Lee; Perspectives on “Stories from the trenches” by Jamie Miller & Michael Helms; Nature, Where Art Thou? But some species of Darkling beetle can get the water they need from dew and ocean fog, using their very own body surfaces. The Namib Desert beetle photographed by University of Oxford researcher Andrew Parker, whose team first worked out in 2001 how the beetle captures water from the air. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Seely, Mary; Henschel, Joh R.; Hamilton III, William J. In the Namib Desert of southwest Africa, standing water is nonexistent. Description: Certain species of darkling beetles that live in the Namib Desert are able to harvest water vapor using an ingenious series of tips and bumps on their wing scales. While poor people in the developing world spend hours walking to collect water, the fog harvesting abilities of the Namib beetle enable it to obtain the water right in the desert. Use a similar principle to harvest drinking water for humans slight increase in efficiency benefit. 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