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Title: Mouthpart conduit sizes of fluid-feeding insects determine the ability to feed from pores

Fluid-feeding insects, such as butterflies, moths, and flies (20% of all animal species), are faced with the common selection pressure of having to remove and feed on trace amounts of fluids from porous surfaces. Insects able to acquire fluids that are confined to pores during drought conditions would have an adaptive advantage and increased fitness over other individuals. Here we performed feeding trials using solutions with magnetic nanoparticles to show that butterflies and flies have mouthparts adapted to pull liquids from porous surfaces using capillary action as the governing principle. In addition, the ability to feed on the liquids collected from pores depends on a relationship between the diameter of the mouthpart conduits and substrate pore size diameter; insects with mouthpart conduit diameters larger than the pores cannot successfully feed, thus there is a limiting substrate pore size from which each species can acquire liquids for fluid uptake. In conclusion, given that natural selection independently favored mouthpart architectures that support these methods of fluid uptake (Diptera and Lepidoptera share a common ancestor 280 mya that had chewing mouthparts), we suggest that the convergence of this mechanism advocates this as an optimal strategy for pulling trace amounts of fluids from porousmore » surfaces.« less
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Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0962-8452
Grant/Contract Number:
SC00112704; IOS 1354956; DBI 1429113; AC02-06CH11357
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 284; Journal Issue: 1846; Journal ID: ISSN 0962-8452
The Royal Society Publishing
Research Org:
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22); National Science Foundation (NSF)
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; Lepidoptera; Diptera; capillarity; liquid bridges; nanoparticles
OSTI Identifier: