Meeting Abstract

65-1  Saturday, Jan. 5 13:30 - 13:45  Insect pee: How glassy-winged sharpshooters excrete ultrafast fluid droplets CHALLITA, EJ*; SINHA, S; KRUGNER, R; BHAMLA, S; Georgia Institute of Technology; Georgia Institute of Technology; United States Department of Agriculture; Georgia Institute of Technology

Glassy-winged sharpshooters are agricultural pests that derive nourishment by feeding on xylem fluid in plants. Due to the dilute nutrient content of xylem fluid, sharpshooters ingest 100-300 times their body weight in xylem fluid per day for deriving adequate nourishment. To prevent fluidic build-up within their bodies, sharpshooters continuously excrete fluid in high volumes, creating an effect known as “leafhopper rain”. Here, we show that sharpshooters exploit a power-amplifying mechanism to catapult micron-sized droplets excrements away from their body. Using high-speed imaging, we quantitatively describe how sharpshooters use their anal stylus as a biological spring to explosively launch fluid droplets at peak accelerations of 150 m/s2. Using simple fluid dynamics-based scaling analysis we also show the physical limits on this mode of fluidic pumping. Insight into the underlying principles of this extreme pump holds potential for understanding disease-transmission via plant-sucking insects as well design of bio-inspired pumps for microfluidic applications.