Thesis subject

How do mosquitoes stick their landings?

Mosquitoes have unique footpads that enable them to land on surfaces that are both solid and fluid. How do the footpads help them stick to solid surfaces during landing? Previously, little work has been done towards understanding how mosquito footpads generate adhesion during dynamic landing events.

The most deadly animal in the world is the mosquito, contributing to roughly one million human deaths per year. Understanding how mosquitoes interact with humans has significant societal implications. In particular, this project is interested in investigating how mosquitoes stick to surfaces when landing.

Insect adhesion is a widely studied field; however, the mosquito’s adhesive pad has received very little attention. Its morphology differs from that of the model organisms due to additional structures that enable them to stand on water. In this study, we aim to understand how the footpad of the mosquito generates adhesion during landing. Mosquito flight and landing occurs across very short time scales, so the student will gain experience in high-speed videography. Additionally, quantifying adhesive performance may require in vivo experiments with restrained animals. Electron microscopy may reveal the morphology of the footpad with greater detail.

This study is part of a collaborative project between the Experimental Zoology Group and the Laboratory of Entomology.

Examiner: Prof. Dr. Ir. Johan L. van Leeuwen
Supervisors: Guillermo Amador
Contact: Guillermo Amador (via contact form)
Begin date: 10/02/2020 (variable)
End date: 01/01/2222 (variable)
Credits: 36 ECTS (variable)
For: MSc Biology / Animal Sciences
Requirements: Successful completion of Functional Zoology (EZO 30806)
Used skills: Working with live insects. High-speed videography. Video tracking of footpads. Light and electron microscopy