Yahoo! News: Cicadas Use ‘Jumping’ Water Droplets to Self-Clean

Yahoo! News: Cicadas Use ‘Jumping’ Water Droplets to Self-Clean

Cicadas get a little help from nature when it comes to grooming themselves, a new study finds.

As unwanted particles, such as pollen, build up on a cicada’s wing,water droplets can wipe it clean and then “jump” off the flying insect, effectively removing residue from its delicate features.

Researchers from Duke University in Durham, N.C., and James Cook University in Australia used a special high-speed video-imaging system to observe how water flies off a cicada’s wing, and how this helps keep it dirt-free. Their findings were published online today (April 29) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Most cicadas are unable to clean their own wings because of their short appendages,” study co-authorGregory Watson, a researcher at James Cook University in Australia, said in a statement. “Furthermore, these insects commonly live in areas where there is little rain over an extended period of time. However, the areas are humid, which provides the tiny dew droplets needed to ‘jump clean’ their wings.”

The researchers noted that droplets of water can merge together and use their stored surface energy to jump off water-repellent – or so-called superhydrophobic – surfaces.

“The ability of water-repellent surfaces to self-clean has conventionally been attributed to rain droplets picking up dirt particles,” study leader Chuan-Hua Chen, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, said in a statement. “For this conventional wisdom to work, rainfall must be present, and the orientation has to be favorable for gravity to effectively remove the rain droplets. These limits severely restrict the practical use of self-cleaning superhydrophobic surfaces.”

But the researchers found that  cicada wings are cleaned in much the same way, and the entire process can be achieved with droplets of dew, as well – not just raindrops.

“[T]he self-propelled jumping motion of the dew drops is very effective in dislodging contaminating particles, regardless of the orientation,” Chen said.

Cicadas live underground for the majority of their lives. The most common species emerge on a yearly basis, but some species only  come out every 17 years, according to the researchers.

Rows of tiny bumps line the wings of cicadas, and as drops of water land on them, they touch only the tips, producing pockets of air underneath the individual droplets. As they travel across the surface of the wings, the water droplets seemingly float on the air bubbles, the researchers explained.

The findings of the new study could one day help scientists and engineers design materials that are able to successfully clean themselves, Chen added.

“Self-cleaning surfaces using the jumping-drop mechanism can work at any orientation, which is a huge advantage for applications with unfavorable orientations with respect to gravity, such as mobile electronics and building roofs,” he said.

A Closer Look at Ants


There are more than 700 species of ants in the United States. Some of the most common include argentine, carpenter, odorous house, pavement and red imported fire ants.

All ants are social insects that live in colonies. They can be identified by their three distinct body regions: head, thorax, and abdomen. However, the biology and habits of each ant species is different and understanding these differences is necessary to effectively control an infestation.

It depends on the species, but ants are commonly attracted to the food in a kitchen, especially sweets and protein-containing substances. Ants are most often found on floors, countertops and in food items. Some species prefer to build nests in soil – such as landscaping – or cracks in concrete on your driveway, walkway or in your garage. Carpenter ants build nests in wood. Ants are typically found indoors the spring and summer months as they search for food.

Most species of ants are considered ‘nuisance pests,’ meaning that they don’t pose a significant threat to health or property, but are an annoyance when found indoors. In fact, ants are the number one nuisance pest in the United States.

Some species of ants, however, can pose threats to health and property. Carpenter ants, for example, excavate wood in order to build their nests, which can cause extensive damage to a structure. Fire ants, on the other hand, sting when threatened, resulting in painful welts that can be dangerous to allergic persons. These species should always be handled by a professional.

Regardless of the species all ants can contaminate food sources and small infestations can grow quickly, so any sign of an infestation should be dealt with promptly.

A trained and licensed pest professional is the best person to make a recommendation based on the proper identification of a particular ant species and the threats they could pose to health and property. Also, homeowners may have a preference as to which treatment is used, so it is important that they have a detailed conversation with their pest control company.  The cost of the treatments can vary depending on the size of the infestation and the property being treated.

There are as many ways to control ants as there are species of ants! Different species eat different things – making it almost impossible to inspect a single area and control the ant population.  The best strategy homeowners can employ when attempting to control ants is to clean, clean, clean. Wipe down counters, regularly remove garbage, clean up grease spills, rinse and remove empty soda cans or other recyclables and mop/sweep the floors. Homeowners should also keep food in sealed containers and keep pet food/water dishes clean. Outside the home, eliminate sources of moisture or standing water such as birdbaths or kiddie pools. Finally, seal cracks and holes around the home to close entry points.

Advice on Hiring a South Florida Pest Control Company

Advice on Hiring a South Florida Pest Control Company


Choosing a pest control professional to share in identification and treatment responsibilities for a possible pest infestation is an important decision for your business. The recommendations provided below will help you to better understand how to select a pest control professional and make a decision that best serves your business:

  • Always work with a qualified, licensed pest control professional in your area; evaluate companies that are members of national, state or local pest management associations.
  • Ask other business owners to recommend pest control companies they have used successfully and how satisfied they were with the service.
  • If a sizable amount of money is involved, get bids from several pest management firms.
  • Don’t rush a decision. Since you are paying for professional knowledge and skill, look for someone whose judgment you can trust.
  • Before signing a contract, be sure to fully understand the nature of the pest, the extent of the infestation, and the work necessary to solve the problem.
  • Buy value, not price. Beware of bargains that sound too good to be true.

Earth Day 2013 – Animated & Interactive Google Doodle

On 22 April 2013, Google Doodle celebrates the Earth Day 2013 with this animated and interactive doodle. Earth Day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day is observed on April 22 each year. The April 22 date was designated as International Mother Earth Day by a consensus resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2009. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 192 countries every year.

Hulett Environmental offers tips to help homeowners pest-proof their home

Hulett Environmental offers tips to help homeowners pest-proof their home


Spring is here and that means weekends throughout April will find homeowners opening windows, packing away the winter clothes and returning patio furniture outdoors. While partaking in these annual “spring cleaning” routines, Hulett Environmental also encouraging people to add pest-proofing inside and outside of the home to their spring to-do lists.

As the weather continues to warm, homeowners should expect to see increased activity from various insects such as ants, termites and cockroaches. Taking preventive measures early in the spring season is the best approach to avoiding infestations and the subsequent health and property risks associated with these pests.

Experts at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) recommend the following steps homeowners can take to keep unwanted pests outside where they belong:

  • Seal cracks and holes along the foundation of the home including entry points for utilities and pipes.
  • Screen windows and doors.
  • Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water around the house, including birdbaths and in clogged gutters.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Store firewood at least 20 feet from the home and on a raised structure such as concrete blocks or poles.
  • Keep kitchens clean by wiping counters and emptying the garbage frequently.
  • Avoid leaving pet’s food dishes out for long periods of time.
  • Inspect the outside of a home for nests built by stinging insects — typically found in the eaves under roofs.

If you suspect you have an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment. For more information, please visit