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ISRN Biophysics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 947872, 5 pages
Research Article

Particle Adhesion Measurements on Insect Wing Membranes Using Atomic Force Microscopy

1Centre for Biodiscovery and Molecular Development of Therapeutics and School of Pharmacy and Molecular Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia
2Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis and School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia

Received 21 July 2012; Accepted 8 August 2012

Academic Editors: E. Dague, M. P. Evstigneev, and S. Kasas

Copyright © 2012 Gregory S. Watson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Many insects have evolved refined self-cleaning membrane structuring to contend with an environment that presents a range of potential contaminates. Contamination has the potential to reduce or interfere with the primary functioning of the wing membrane or affect other wing cuticle properties, (for example, antireflection). Insects will typically encounter a variety of air-borne contaminants which include plant matter and soil fragments. Insects with relatively long or large wings may be especially susceptible to fouling due to the high-wing surface area and reduced ability to clean their extremities. In this study we have investigated the adhesion of particles (pollens and hydrophilic silica spheres) to wing membranes of the super/hydrophobic cicada (Thopha sessiliba), butterfly (Eurema hecabe), and the hydrophilic wing of flower wasp (Scolia soror). The adhesional forces with both hydrophobic insects was significantly lower for all particle types than the hydrophilic insect species studied.