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Earwigs wings and Biomimicry




A notable and defining characteristic of earwigs, aside from their massive pincers, is their unexpected wings. Their short front wings create a casing for intricately origami like folded hind wings. These folded wings are semi transparent and paper thin like skin. Hence the insect order name ‘Dermaptera’ meaning skin like. These incredible wings can expand to up to fifteen times their original folded size when in flight, thanks to their protein rich rubbery joints which almost seem to defy the laws of physics. This is due to their ability to spring backwards and forwards whilst unfolding.




Using 3-d printers, scientists have been able to replicate these complex unfolding wings. They believe this unique form of origami could be used to influence foldable objects of the future, such as maps, tents, and solar wings for satellites.


Some other notable examples of biomimicry (emulating nature through modern technology) include: Termite dens influencing Architecture of buildings in hot countries to enable better ventilation; Humpback Whale fins influencing aerodynamic engineering developments on aircraft propellers and wind turbine blades, enabling more lift and power generation; and Stenocara or Darkling beetles ability to collect water from fog influencing the future of atmospheric water harvesting. Big Eureka moments for humanity!


As our ability to see and scan the smaller things becomes more advanced, so I think biomimicry will become ever more prevalent. I find it curious to think that there could be a biological adaptation out there useful to humanity on an organism that has yet to be discovered, and with the rate of biodiversity degradation, it's disconcerting to know that same organism might go extinct before it gets to be discovered…


Image of Earwig: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/earwig-origami-wings-how-they-work-insect-flight

Image of 3d visualisation: Earwig fan designing: Biomimetic and evolutionary biology applications - https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2005769117


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