Biomimicry at its Best:

The Namib Desert Beetle


Namib Desert Beetle

“The Year in Biomimcry” is a blog that should not be missed. Although it was published early this year, the ways that technology can mimic the insect world is always fascinating. One of the latest developments is based on a desert beetle that draws water from thin air.

Water restrictions are a huge problem for farmers on arid lands because potable water is in short supply. The farm’s production will be based on the amount of water available to keep the crops alive and fed during the driest months of the year.

The Namib Desert Beetle is a master of water conservation. It draws the water necessary for survival from the air by facing the sea breeze. The water molecules condense on the insect’s cooler body, but that’s not all. There are bumps that channel the droplets of water collected from the air and aim the water towards the beetle’s waiting mouth.

Remember that insects cannot survive without water, any more than humans and plant life would.  Edward Linacre of Melbourne’s Swinburne University has developed the “Airdrop Water Collector” which is a system that extracts water from the air to water crops in arid lands.

Edward Linacre and the Airdrop Water Collector

The system is based on a process called sub-surface drip irrigation and delivers the water collected right to the roots of the plants. While it is still in an early stage, the low tech solar powered system is simple to use and easy for farmers to maintain. Linacre says that was his goal, creating a simple system to extract water from the air. A turbine draws up air from under the ground through a series of coils. When the air reaches its dew point, the water is collected in an underground tank. The pumps take over, delivering the water to the crops. It’s ingenious and some people might wonder that it hasn’t been done before.

Droughts could become a thing of the past when the Airdrop Water Collector becomes available worldwide. It is a future to look forward to. The Namib Desert Beetle is not a pest you have to worry about; it will not invade your property or your home. The Namib Desert Beetle can be seen as a testament to survival, however, and the technology used by a small insect to attract water from the air. The applications for the Airdrop Water Collector are inestimable at this point.

Pest control in Phoenix isn’t just about getting rid of the insects that infest homes, destroy gardens and carry disease. It’s also about promoting beneficial insects so that they can thrive and do the job they were meant to do. Education is always the key to a brighter tomorrow, and new inventions could be just one look away. What inspiration can you find from nature’s own protection techniques?


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