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July 29, 2020 1 min read

Have you ever wondered how rain affects smaller insects such as butterflies? 
 
Neither have I… until I came across the latest study done by researchers at Cornell University who are actually studying butterflies to see how they survive the impact from raindrops.
 
They stated that when a raindrop falls on a butterfly, it is the equivalent to humans surviving a summer shower of bowling balls!
 
In this study, researchers looked at how natural surfaces, like plant leaves, feathers, and butterfly wings, shatter and spread raindrops to minimize damage. This is the latest study in the field of what is called biomimicry. 

Biomimicry translates to “imitation of the living,” and is the practice of taking inspiration from nature, and applying it to human challenges to create sustainable solutions. Researchers do this by reverse-engineering thousands of years of evolution into something humans can actually use to their benefit in a natural, safe way.

 

In the case of the butterfly in the rain, the researchers uncovered that micro-size bumps and a nano-size layer of wax shatter and spread high-speed raindrops to protect from physical damage as well as temperature changes. 

 

The researchers recorded multiple times that when a raindrop hit the surface, it would ripple and spread. A nanoscale wax layer would repel the water, while larger micro-size bumps on the surface created holes in the spreading raindrop. According to the researchers, it's like dropping a balloon onto a needle, which breaks the balloon into smaller pieces. 

PJ Pierangeli
PJ Pierangeli


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