SUBJECT: Ph.D. Dissertation Defense
BY: Andrew Dickerson
TIME: Friday, December 20, 2013, 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: Love Building, 210
TITLE: Mosquito Flight Adaptations to Particulate Environments
COMMITTEE: Dr. David Hu, Chair (ME)
Dr. G. Paul Neitzel (ME)
Dr. Alexander Alexeev (ME)
Dr. Athanasios Nenes (EAS)
Dr. Robert Dudley (BIO)


Flying insects face challenging conditions such as rainfall, fog, and dew. In this theoretical and experimental thesis, we investigate the survival mechanisms of the mosquito, Anopheles, through particles of various size. Large particles such as falling raindrops can weigh up to fifty times a mosquito. Mosquitoes survive such impacts by virtue of their low mass and strong exoskeleton. Smaller particle size, as present in fog and insecticide, pose the greatest danger. Mosquitoes cannot fly through seemingly innocuous household humidifier fog or other gases with twice the density of air. Upon landing, fog accumulates on the mosquito body and wings, which in small quantities can be shaken off in the manner of a wet dog. Large amounts of dew on the wings create a coalescence cascade ultimately folding the wings into tacos, which are difficult to dry. The insights gained in this study will inform the nascent field of flapping micro-aerial vehicles.