Strong attachment as an adaptation of flightless weevils on windy oceanic islands

Lu Yi Wang*, Chung Ping Lin*, Stanislav N. Gorb*, Hamed Rajabi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Enhanced attachment ability is common in plants on islands to avoid potential fatal passive dispersal. However, whether island insects also have increased attachment ability remains unclear. Here we measured the attachment of a flightless weevil, Pachyrhynchus sarcitis kotoensis, from tropical islands, and compared it with documented arthropods from the mainland. We examined the morphology and material gradient of its attachment devices to identify the specific adaptive modifications for attachment. We find that the weevil has much stronger attachment force and higher safety factor than previously studied arthropods, regardless of body size and substrate roughness. This probably results from the specific flexible bases of the adhesive setae on the third footpad of the legs. This softer material on the setal base has not been reported hitherto and we suggest that it acts as a flexible hinge to form intimate contact to substrate more effectively. By contrast, no morphological difference in tarsomeres and setae between the weevil and other beetles is observed. Our results show the remarkably strong attachment of an island insect and highlights the potential adaptive benefits of strong attachment in windy island environment. The unique soft bases of the adhesive hairs may inspire the development of strong biomimetic adhesives.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20230447
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number208
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Nov 22


  • Curculionidae
  • Pachyrhynchus
  • Taiwan
  • adhesion
  • cuticle
  • island biogeography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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