Microstructure and Hydrophobicity of the External Surface of a Sonoran Desert Beetle

Luis E. Tellechea-Robles, Rodrigo Méndez-Alonzo, Francisco E. Molina-Freaner, Amir Maldonado*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We have studied the external surface (elytra) of the Sonoran Desert beetle (Eleodes es-chscholtzii). Our aim was to assess whether this species has similar traits to some beetles from the Namibian Desert that are known to have hierarchical micropatterns that allow for water harvesting. We have conducted scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and apparent contact angle experiments on specimens collected at two sampling sites with different ambient humidity. The results show that the beetle’s external surface microstructure is composed of a compact array of polygons with randomly scattered protuberances. The density of the polygons in the microstructure is different for individuals collected in different sites: the polygon array is denser in the more humid site and less dense in the drier site. The measured contact angles also depend on the sampling site. For individuals collected in the drier site, the average apparent contact angle is 70°, whereas for the more humid site, the average apparent contact angle is 92°. FT-IR experiments are consistent with the presence of hydrophobic wax compounds in the studied surfaces. Our investigation opens new questions that are currently being addressed by experiments that are underway. For instance, it would be interesting to know whether the observed nanopatterns could be used in biomimetic devices for water harvesting purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • beetles
  • hydrophobicity
  • micropatterned surfaces


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