High-speed videography reveals how mosquitoes fly in the rain

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Mosquitoes tend to thrive in humid environments where rain is common, but they aren't exactly the hardiest of creatures. The typical raindrop weighs in at a mass about fifty times that of your average mosquito—so how do the little buggers manage to survive on a rainy day?

To find out, engineer David Hu and his colleagues at Georgia Institute of Technology constructed specially designed "rain boxes" that let them film the flight of numerous mosquitoes under simulated rainy conditions.


Contrary to one urban myth, which claims that mosquitoes caught in a rainstorm actively evade incoming water bombs, Hu said that the mosquitoes "showed absolutely no sign of trying to avoid [the water droplets]."

Instead, the team's high-speed videos revealed that the mass of an individual mosquito is actually too small to cause falling raindrops to splash; instead, the raindrops simply "deform," and as a result transfer very little momentum to the flying mosquitoes. As a point of reference, Hu calculated that a raindrop loses just 2% of its velocity after hitting a mosquito, which is insufficient to dramatically disrupt the insect's flight, as seen in the video above at around 00:54.


[arXiv via New Scientist]