Living on Earth's Maggie Villiger reports on a desert beetle that can teach people a lot about collecting water in a dry environment.
CURWOOD: Coming up, the Climate Change Summit reconvenes without a U.S. presence. Some business people say this could hurt American companies. First, this page from the Animal Notebook with Maggie Villiger.
VILLIGER: Water is hard to come by in Southern Africa's Namib Desert. It's so dry there that rainfall is considered negligible. But stenocara beetles use an ingenious technique to collect water from the early morning fog that rolls in just a few times per month. Their wings are made of a bumpy field of mounds that attract water and waxy valleys that repel water. And when the beetle bends down and positions his wings leaning into the wind, the incoming fog collects as tiny water droplets on the wing's bumps.
The droplets grow until they detach and roll with gravity down the waxy pathways into the beetle's mouth. Through evolution, stenocara beetles hit upon the perfect bump pattern. If they were more spread out, the wing surface would fill too quickly and not be able to catch enough fog. If the bumps were any closer, the droplets would be too small and would blow away.
It's an elaborate way to get a drink of water, but researchers say humans could replicate this fog collecting technique in dry regions. Scientists envision bumpy coverings for tents or buildings that could trap water for drinking or farming. Thanks to these desert beetles, they already know the perfect bump ratio. That's this week's Animal Note. I'm Maggie Villiger.
CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living On Earth.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth