Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 204, Issue 7, pp 627–638 | Cite as

Contribution of different tarsal attachment devices to the overall attachment ability of the stink bug Nezara viridula

  • Gianandrea Salerno
  • Manuela Rebora
  • Alexander Kovalev
  • Elena Gorb
  • Stanislav Gorb
Original Paper


The tarsal attachment devices of the southern green stink bug Nezara viridula, a cosmopolitan pest of different crops, encompass a pair of claws, distal pretarsal smooth pulvilli, and a proximal hairy pad on the ventral basitarsus. To evaluate the role of these attachment devices in generating attachment, behavioural experiments testing locomotion of insects with ablated pulvilli, shaved hairs and cut-off claws were performed. Using traction force experiments, insect attachment performance was evaluated on artificial substrates characterised by different roughness and on two substrates with different surface energies in the air and under water. To examine the contact area of attachment devices during resting, pulling and inverted walking, intact insects and those without claws were video-recorded using a high-speed camera. The present data reveal a great involvement of pulvilli in insect attachment on all the tested surfaces, while the hairy pad seems to have a role in producing friction forces only on smooth surfaces and on surfaces with intermediate roughness. The hairy pad was revealed to be important in adhesion to hydrophobic substrates under water, a function that could be relevant for N. viridula insects in consideration that many plant leaves tend to have hydrophobic surfaces and may be often covered by water film.


Pulvilli Hairy pads Claws Biomechanics Insects 



This work was supported by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, EMBA COST Action CA15216, STSM Grant (ECOST-STSM-CA15216-220617-088785) at the Zoological Institute, Functional Morphology and Biomechanics, Christian-Albrechts-Universität, Kiel, Germany.

Author contributions

The study was designed by all the authors. SG performed the cryo-scanning electron microscopy investigations. GS and MR performed the traction force experiments. EG and AK characterized the tested surfaces. The manuscript was written by GS, MR and EG. All authors discussed the analysis and interpretation of the results and participated in the final editing of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e AmbientaliUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Chimica, Biologia e BiotecnologieUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Functional Morphology and Biomechanics, Zoological InstituteKiel UniversityKielGermany

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