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Home  > Raw materials & technologies  > Adhesives: Ladybird beetle as a model

Monday, 16 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies

Adhesives: Ladybird beetle as a model

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The ladybird beetle Coccinella septempunctata has adhesive pads on the distal parts of its legs – a model for adhesions for our daily life.

Upper side (left) and lower side (right) of a seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata). The blue arrow exemplarily indicates one of the adhesive pads of the ladybird.

Source: Stanislav N. Gorb
Upper side (left) and lower side (right) of a seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata). The blue arrow exemplarily indicates one of the adhe...

For an insect to be able to efficiently attach to surfaces, the adhesive pads on its legs must establish large contact areas. In case of hairy adhesive pads this requires flexibility of the contact-forming bristles, called adhesive tarsal setae. However, too flexible setae would have a low mechanical stability resulting in a decreased attachment ability of the pads.

Effective adaptation to rough surfaces

Dr Henrik Peisker, Dr Jan Michels and Prof. Stanislav N. Gorb from the Institute of Zoology at Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel (Germany) showed that the adhesive tarsal setae of the ladybird beetle Coccinella septempunctata feature pronounced gradients in the material composition and properties along their length. The Young’s modulus ranges from 1.2 MPa at the tips, where we found the incorporation of high proportions of the elastic protein resilin, to 6.8 GPa at the bases of the setae. These gradients likely represent an evolutionary optimisation, which increases the performance of the adhesive system by enabling effective adaptation to rough surfaces while simultaneously preventing lateral collapse of the setae.

This study was published in Nature Communications.

Please find more information here: http://www.uni-kiel.de/aktuell/pm/2013/2013-230-marienkaefer-e.shtml

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