Can Mosquitoes Fly In The Rain?

A lot of good things come with summer. You have barbecues, visits to the beach, baseball games and many other fun activities. However, summer also brings with it some unwelcome guests – mosquitoes.

There’s no doubt that mosquitoes are giant nuisances, and they can be downright dangerous with the way they spread disease, but they are also remarkably tough insects. They have evolved to survive in an environment of repellents, insecticides, and various other pest control methods. However, one of their more interesting talents is their ability to fly in the rain.

Think about it – a raindrop to a mosquito is like a 3 ton object to a human. That’s like having a pickup truck dropped on your head. This is because a single raindrop has 50 times the mass of a mosquito, and it can drop at speeds of up to 22 miles per hour. Still, mosquitoes are able to survive thousands of raindrops over the course of a storm. So how do they do it?

As it turns out, mosquitoes have an extraordinarily strong exoskeleton and a mass small enough to minimize the force that each raindrop delivers when it hits them. Because they are much lighter than the drops of rain, the mosquitoes do not impede the momentum of the drop during collision, which means that very little force is transferred between the two.

On top of that, the mosquitoes do not try to resist the raindrops. Instead, they will take a zen approach and just “go with the flow.” They will partly enter the raindrop and drop some altitude along with it, before recovering. Not only does this save the mosquito’s life, it also throws it less off course than a full impact would.

The recovery is fairly artful itself. The mosquito will use its wings and legs as a sort of sail that creates drag and lifts the mosquito out of the raindrop. There is some danger however. If the mosquito is hit by a raindrop when it is too close to the ground and it cannot remove itself in time, it will be slammed into the earth.

Researchers were able to discover this behavior by placing mosquitoes inside of an acrylic mesh cage in the rain, and filming them with high-speed cameras that can capture up to 4000 frames per second. The reason for conducting this experiment, besides curiosity, was to help develop new principles of practical engineering, which would be particularly useful in the development of micro air vehicles.

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