Wed 12 Mar 2008
A group at University of Cambridge released a study Wednesday detailing a mystery a century old, how did that roach get there? Lead Researchers, Walter Federle and Christofer Clemente, explain that the nemesis of modern motels has two pads on the feet which allow the legs to pull or push. This allows the buggers to skim across sufaces ninety degrees and even one hundred and eighty degrees from normal.
Past research has shown that the pads on the legs of roaches contains a thin oily liquid which uses surface tension to allow them to stick firmly to a surface, allowing them to pull themselves along. However, no one has managed to figure out how these insects could travel up walls as this requires pushing as well as pulling on the surface. Using some very clever methodology, Federle and Clemente amputated legs from adult cockroaches, froze the limbs, and examined them under an electron microscope. Then after examination they tested the movement of the legs on a mount and monitored the action using a high speed camera. The end result is the theory that roaches pads are comprised of two parts, a toe and heel. The toe is used to pull the roach and the heel to push. The insect is able to scurry along by using a combination of legs and pushing/pulling their way on the surface.
This is another leap forward in understanding adhesive movement. Similar to how the gecko’s movement has helped to develop a new glue, this could help robotic engineers develop better robots or develop a new construction machine which could reach areas in the past that have been inaccessible. As well motels around the world now have a reason to dump money into a research fund. This fund would of course be focused on development of a new paint to prevent a roach’s pad from pushing and pulling, ridding motels of roaches once and for all.