Reading a mosquito flying through the rain is caught by a drop about every 20 seconds. But it is like peeling off the insects and usually does not force them to make an emergency landing. Earlier research by Andrew Dickerson of the Georgia Institute of Technology had already shown that. Amazingly, the mosquitoes have big problems with fog. Why just the finer water droplets force the bloodsuckers to the ground, Dickerson and his colleagues have now found out in their recent study. According to the investigations, the tiny water droplets collide with the so-called vibrating cups (holders) of the insects. With these organs they control their orientation in space during the flight. There are two structures at the base of the wings, which consist of a stem and a thickening at the end, much like drumsticks. Especially at the base they are filled with sensory organs. During flight, these vibrating bowls are moved up and down in anti-parallel to the flapping of the wings at a high frequency. They measure the speed and the acceleration of the rotation according to the principle of a so-called vibration gyroscope. The information then serves the mosquito to coordinate its wing beat.
According to the researchers, the many collisions of the vibrating chests with the floating water particles of the mist lead to misinformation about the flight characteristics. As a result, the mosquito is no longer able to control its wing flap properly and stumbles in flight, so to speak. "When it comes to airplanes, fog obstructs the view, whereas in the case of mosquitoes the flight sensors fail, " says Dickerson.