Aerodynamic advantages of upside down take-off for aerial dispersal in Tetranychus spider mites
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- Osakabe, M., Isobe, H., Kasai, A. et al. Exp Appl Acarol (2008) 44: 165. doi:10.1007/s10493-008-9141-2
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Aerial dispersal may be important for redistribution of spider mites into new habitats. Evidence for behavioral control of aerial take-off has been well documented for Tetranychus urticae Koch. Before aerial dispersal they exhibit the aerial take-off posture that involves lifting the forelegs upright and raising the forebody. However, whether the aerial take-off posture functions to increase drag has remained unclear. The objectives of this study were to clarify: (i) aerodynamic effects of the aerial take-off posture; and (ii) actual aerial take-off behavior in T. urticae. To evaluate the aerodynamic forces experienced by grounded spider mites in different postures, we constructed three-dimensional models of T. urticae, exhibiting the aerial take-off posture and the normal posture, using computer graphics. We found that the aerial take-off posture was effective in receiving greater rearward forces from wind rather than upward forces. As a result, aerial take-off from a horizontal platform is unlikely. Instead, inverted departure surfaces, e.g., lower leaf surfaces, with inclines are likely to be effective sites for take-off. Laboratory experiments and field observations indicated that the mites preferentially adopted such a position for orientation and take-off. Our findings provided a rationale for the take-off behavior of Tetranychus spider mites.