Mariel Emrich in Talking Science:
Mosquitoes are as adept at flying in rainstorms as under clear skies. But how is that possible? Wouldn’t rain crush a mosquito to the ground since mosquitoes weigh 50 times less than raindrops?
David Hu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and his graduate research assistant Andrew Dickerson have found that while mosquitoes do get hit by raindrops, they don’t get crushed by them.
Hu discussed their research in a talk at November's APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting that was entitled “How Mosquitoes Fly in the Rain”.
The researchers measured the impact forces of raindrops on both regular mosquitoes and custom-built mosquito mimics. The mimics were made from small Styrofoam spheres of mosquito-like size and mass. They used high-speed video to capture images of the mosquitoes getting hit with raindrops.
Since the bugs fly so slowly (a maximum of 1 meter per second) compared to the drops (which fall between 5 to 9 meters per second), the mosquitoes cannot react quickly enough for avoidance, and most likely cannot sense the imminent collision.