Bug Blog

Dragonfly Wings Have Another Use That Is Of Interest To Scientists

Dosimeters are devices that experts use to detect radiation level in the environment. However, when trying to determine how much radiation exists on particular objects after radiation is released in the environment, scientists find that dosimeters are often insufficient to give them accurate reads. It turns out that the wings belonging to dragonflies can tell scientists a lot about radiation levels that exist in the environment.

When dragonflies are exposed to radiation in the environment the radiation causes atoms located on the dragonflies wings to lose an electron. This process can result in creating entirely new molecules on the dragonflies wings. These new molecules move around on the dragonflies wing in order to recombine. The recombination of molecules results in a flash of light that the scientists observe and count in order to determine radiation levels in the environment with accuracy.

This method of measuring radiation levels is met with some controversy in the scientific community. Despite some drawbacks to using dragonfly wings to measure radiation levels, scientists are already trying to find other animals that can help determine levels of radiation in the environment.

The sun can cause the lost electrons from the chemical composition of a dragonflies wing to recombine with other components on a dragonflies wing. Could the sun’s interference with the chemical recombination skew the results that the scientists are hoping for?