Meniscus climbing using a fixed body posture has been well documented for various aquatic and neustonic insects, but is not known from small flying insects that inadvertently become trapped on water surfaces. Here, we show that thrips (order Thysanoptera) can ascend a meniscus by arching their non-wetting bodies to translate head-first and upward along a water surface; if initially oriented backwards, they can turn by 180° to ascend head-first, and climb upward on a surrounding boundary. Using variable-concentration sucrose solutions, we show that translational and climbing speeds during meniscus ascent vary inversely with fluid viscosity. Becoming trapped in water is a frequent event for flying insects, and given that most of them are very small, dedicated behaviours to escape water may be commonplace among pterygotes.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3461742.
- Received April 6, 2016.
- Accepted August 18, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.