Impact of ambient humidity on traction forces in ladybird beetles (Coccinella septempunctata)

Lars Heepe*, Jonas O. Wolff, Stanislav N. Gorb

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Many insects possess hairy adhesive foot pads, supplemented with a tarsal secretion, which allow them to securely and reversibly attach to various kinds of natural substrates, also under complex environmental conditions. Conditions such as ambient temperature and humidity have been shown to influence the attachment ability of the dry adhesive foot pads in spiders and geckos. For insects, however, the influence of the environment on attachment ability is lacking. In the present study, we therefore studied the attachment ability of the seven-spotted ladybird beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) at different humidities by traction force experiments. Our results indicate an optimal range of relative humidity with maximal traction forces. At both low (15%) and high (99%) relative humidity a decrease of attachment ability was found. At 60% humidity, the highest attachment forces were revealed. This relationship was found both in female and male beetles, despite of a deviating structure of adhesive setae and a significant difference in forces between sexes. These findings demonstrate that humidity similarly affects the function of both dry and wet adhesive pads, although both types of adhesive systems (wet and dry) are supposed to be based on different physical interactions (capillarity versus van der Waals forces).

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBio-inspired structured adhesives
    Subtitle of host publicationbiological prototypes, fabrication, tribological properties, contact mechanics, and novel concepts
    EditorsLars Heepe, Longjian Xue, Stanislav N. Gorb
    Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
    PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319591148
    ISBN (Print)9783319591131
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Publication series

    NameBiologically-Inspired Systems
    ISSN (Print)2211-0593
    ISSN (Electronic)2211-0607

    Bibliographical note

    Previously published by Heepe, Wolff, and Gorb (2016) "Influence of ambient humidity on the attachment ability of ladybird beetles (Coccinella septempunctata)" in Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, Vol. 7, pp. 1322-1329.


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