Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Like Cats, Aphids Land on Feet After Falling

Douglas Main, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 05 February 2013 Time: 04:09 PM ET

Aphids may not be able to fly, but they can fall pretty well: Like defenestrated cats, the common insects usually land upright, to paraphrase a new study.

The study, published yesterday (Feb. 4) in the journal Current Biology, found that a common insect called pea aphids land upright 95 percent of the time after falling off a leaf. Pea aphids, which live off the sap of plants, don't possess any specialized appendages to help them glide or fall, unlike certain insects. So how do they do it?

In the study, aphids were made to let go of a leaf and freefall when researchers placed aphid-eating ladybugs nearby. The researchers then filmed the falling aphids and analyzed the footage, creating a mathematical model to explain how these sap-swilling insects accomplish this feat.

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