Effect of particulate contamination on adhesive ability and repellence in two species of ant (Hymenoptera; Formicidae)

Anyon, Matthew J. and Orchard, Michael J. and Buzza, David M. A. and Humphries, Stuart and Kohonen, Mika M. (2012) Effect of particulate contamination on adhesive ability and repellence in two species of ant (Hymenoptera; Formicidae). Journal of Experimental Biology, 215 (4). pp. 605-616. ISSN 0022-0949

Full content URL: http://jeb.biologists.org/content/215/4/605

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Effect of particulate contamination on adhesive ability and repellence in two species of ant (Hymenoptera; Formicidae)

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Abstract

Tarsal adhesive pads are crucial for the ability of insects to traverse their natural environment. Previous studies have demonstrated that for both hairy and smooth adhesive pads, significant reduction in adhesion can occur because of contamination of these pads by wax crystals present on plant surfaces or synthetic microspheres. In this paper, we focus on the smooth adhesive pads of ants and study systematically how particulate contamination and the subsequent loss of adhesion depends on particle size, particle surface energy, humidity and species size. To this end, workers of ant species Polyrhachis dives and Myrmica scabrinodis (Hymenoptera; Formicidae) were presented with loose synthetic powder barriers with a range of powder diameters (1-500μm) and surface energies (PTFE or glass), which they would have to cross in order to escape the experimental arena. The barrier experiments were conducted for a range of humidities (10-70%). Experimental results and scanning electron microscopy confirm that particulate powders adversely affect the adhesive ability of both species of ant on smooth substrates via contamination of the arolia. Specifically, the loss of adhesion was found to depend strongly on particle diameter, but only weakly on particle type, with the greatest loss occurring for particle diameters smaller than the claw dimensions of each species, and no effect of humidity was found. We also observed that ants were repelled by the powder barriers which led to a decrease of adhesion prior to their eventual crossing, suggesting that insect antennae may play a role in probing the mechanical fragility of substrates before crossing them. © 2012. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.

Keywords:politef, adhesion, animal, ant, antenna (organ), article, biomechanics, hindlimb, humidity, particle size, particulate matter, physiology, surface property, Adhesiveness, Animals, Ants, Arthropod Antennae, Polytetrafluoroethylene, Surface Properties, Tarsus, Animal, Formicidae, Hexapoda, Hymenoptera, Myrmica scabrinodis, Polyrhachis dives
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C340 Entomology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:15253
Deposited On:06 Oct 2014 09:48

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