Mosquitoes Fail in Heavy Fog Say Scientists

Posted on November 28, 2012

Mosquitoes have the ability to survive impacts with raindrops that are much heavier than they are. However, when it comes to fog mosquitoes fail at flight. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have found that fog overwhelms mosquitoes and makes it difficult or impossible for them to fly. The thicker the fog, the more difficult it gets for mosquitoes to fly. Scientists say that "just like modern aircraft, mosquitoes also are grounded when the fog thickens."

During a rainstorm a mosquito may only have to deal with one drop every 20 seconds, but fog particles are everywhere in a fog cloud and they overwhelm mosquitoes. Georgia Tech researcher Andrew Dickerson and his colleague David Hu used high-speed videography to determine how fog grounds mosquitoes. The scientists report in a release that they found the fog particles are the same size as halteres, little knobbed structures that act as the mosquito's flight control mechanism.

Dickerson says, "Thus the halteres cannot sense their position correctly and malfunction, similarly to how windshield wipers fail to work well when the rain is very heavy or if there is snow on the windshield. This study shows us that insect flight is similar to human flight in aircraft in that flight is not possible when the insects cannot sense their surroundings. For humans, visibility hinders flight; whereas for insects it is their gyroscopic flight sensors."

Here is a video about the mosquito and fog experiments: