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be careful where you clique

How flies dance across the ceiling upside down

Those pincer claws can grab for extra footing. Those small hairs adhere via surface tension. The smallest act as taste sensors. That’s why the fly has to constantly wipe its feet, everything gets stuck to them and then they don’t stick and sense the right way.

A team of Scientists in Stuttgart, Germany watched hundreds of videotaped detachment events at a slow speed. What they found is that the fly has not one strategy, but four, for freeing up a stuck foot. Pushing the foot away from the body tends to scrunch up the footpads, popping them free. They can also twist the pads loose, pry them up with the help of the claws, or just yank them away from the surface with brute force.

“Walking on a ceiling is very different from normal walking because the gravity tends to pull an inverted insect away instead of pressing it to the surface” explains Dr. Stanislav Gorb of the Max Planck Institute. “Our results, in combination with the knowledge on the microstructure of pads, provide important inspiration for mimicking locomotion of wall and ceiling walking machines, which use micropatterned polymer feet for generating adhesion”.

Gorb’s group is now working on modeling various materials to scale fly feet up to a human size, so that we too can dance across the ceiling. Well, probably the Delta force guys first though.

(via EurekaAlert)

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