Rain and dew droplets can dislodge or drown small insects and may be important factors that drive adaptations for avoidance and escape. Studying the microstructure of small insects and insect behaviour can help understand these adaptations. We quantified avoidance behaviour and entrapment of nymphs and adults of the tea green leafhopper (Empoasca onukii) using simulated rainfall onto host plant foliage and made observations of pretarsi and abdomen microstructures. Adults responded rapidly to simulated rainfall and escaped by jumping whilst most young nymphs were washed from water-sprayed leaves though older nymphs tended to remain on leaves and subsequently escaped from water droplets. Adults had denser covering of water-repelling brochosomes on pretarsi and abdomen surface than nymphs, and were able to stand on water film whilst most nymphs had multiple penetrating tarsi. Removal of brochosomes from the abdomen of adults reduced hydrophobicity, demonstrating the hydrophobic significance of brochosomes in the capacity of leafhopper to escape from water droplets. Nymphs exhibited a higher pull-off force than adults. This research is one of the few studies to focus on the wettability and water avoidance of small insect pests and has implications for pest management.
Lin, M., Vasseur, L., Yang, G., Gurr, G., & You, M. (2016). Avoidance, escape and microstructural adaptations of the tea green leafhopper to water droplets. Scientific Reports, 6, 1-9. . https://doi.org/10.1038/srep37026