Namibian fog-basking beetle

On a foggy morning you can find old Onymacris unguicularis standing on his head on top of a sand dune with his bottom in the air… no he hasn’t been drinking all night, quite the opposite, in fact he’s absolutely parched.


Water, lovely stuff, wash with it, make tea with it… life started in it and it took quite some time for him to get out of it, I know how it feels, it’s awful getting out of the tub at times…

The wet stuff is flabbergasting in its omnipresent grandeur, lakes of incomprehensible dimensions, huge rivers coarse through the land slicing through granite mountains like an unimaginably slow paring knife. The oceans are so massive that we haven’t got the foggiest what lurks at the bottom of them. Water blankets the planet, our blue Earth, covering two thirds of it… in fact it never fails to surprise us down at the Proceedings that there is in fact absolutely bugger all of the stuff… don’t believe me? Take a look;


Told you… yes really, that’s it, that wee blue droplet is all the lakes, all the rivers, all the puddles, all the seas, all the ice and soda, even all the cup a soups… all that we have… thankfully we don’t treat it too badly… back in a mo’ just going for a… oh dear lordy what are we doing?

Which brings us back to our friend the Namibian fog-basking beetle. The local bushmen refer to him as the ‘tok-tokkie’ beetle, as they attract a mate by tapping the ground with their bottoms to make a noise. Though it’s not for their fine line in rectal morse-code chat up lines that makes this chap so splendid. He’s developed a rather nifty way of getting a drink. As a sea fog rolls in of a morning the beetle presents himself to it. This is where things get clever, his carapace is made up of a series of peaks and troughs. The peaks are very attractive to water and the fog settles on them, the troughs however are waxy and hydrophobic and the water rolls off the trough and begins to form droplets. The water naturally runs down the inverted beetles body and into his mouth, smashing!


This gave the chaps down at the MoD an idea, they’ve made a series of fabrics using glass beads and waxy coatings to make huge and inexpensive fog catchers, so that the parched locals can get a glass of water. Of course getting a free drink at the best of times is obviously a good idea, but in Africa it could be a matter of life and death. While governments nowadays are happy to kick the hell out of some poor bloody country for the sake of oil… as the population crisis looms the next wars will be fought over a far more valuable fluid resource… actually I think I’ll have that drink after all.

Published in: on October 13, 2009 at 10:15 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. “The Tank” finds this beetle quite intriguing, as well as the entire site. I feel many of these creatures would fit in perfectly with my “little family business”.

    Benny “The Tank”

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