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article imageRevealed — How butterflies stay dry

By Tim Sandle     Nov 23, 2013 in Environment
Why don't butterflies get damp or wet when it rains? The answer is inked to the make-up of the surface of the wings of the butterfly.
According to a new article in the journal Nature, the answer is: slightly bumpy surfaces. Because the butterfly wing is not smooth, but instead made up of small bumps, the wings are capable of repelling water. This means that the butterfly wings are able to push water away better than the relatively smooth surfaces found on many other creatures.
To replicate the effect, James Bird of Boston University and colleagues dripped water onto silicon wafers with different textures and filmed the droplets’ splashes. The wafers were designed to mimic the wings of butterflies.
The researchers found that when water droplets hit the ridged wafers, the droplets flared into a splatter that skimmed surfaces only briefly before rebounding, thereby keeping the simulated wing dry. Science News notes that ribbed textures force droplets to skip off surfaces quickly, cutting the contact time between water and wafer.
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