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Why Pollinators are the Best Innovators

{Article written by Daemon Dias}

Pollinators are much more than supporters of our farmed food supply; they also happen to be excellent teachers. Biomimicry is a term that describes how the human species takes inspiration and design features from that which already exists in nature, such as pollinators. The easiest and most common example of biomimicry is how Velcro was invented. An engineer simply mimicked the design of

cockleburs a.k.a. burrs, you know the ones that stick to your clothes and your dog’s fur?

Yup, George de Mestral got the idea when he was walking his dog, he simply put the burrs under the microscope and whipped up some engineering wizardry to invent Velcro, thanks George, now to go put up some pictures up with Velcro...

Unlike Velcro, researchers have been looking to our friendly butterflies in hopes for the next biomimicry discovery… male Morpho butterflies, to be more specific. These shiny iridescent blue/violet butterfly wings have a special chemical makeup that allows them to reflect rather than absorb light. Like George, researchers are examining these properties, but at a microscopic level. Being able to mimic these properties of the butterfly could be massive for technologies that need to reflect light or photons to carry energy or information. Possibly more interestingly, other butterflies, like the Monarch, are inspiring researchers to redesign wind turbine blades. The common rose butterfly is advancing solar power technology with the inspiration from its disordered nanoholes that help absorb sunlight, and moths are helping scientists discover new ways of making biodegradable adhesives.

One struggle in biomimicry that scientists are having is the replicability of the pollination delivered by bees. Engineers, scientists, and researchers have not and admit to possibly never being able to crack this code. Wow, that just made me feel good to know that what we are doing here at P3 is not something that can be replaced by science. We are supporting our pollinator friends who in turn, support us!

Butterflies are more than just awesome pollinators, they are innovators, and good ones at that. So, the next time you’re out in nature and see anything from a pollinator to a burr, think like George de Mestral about what these species might teach us besides the story we all already know about them. If there’s anything from nature or pollinators that has inspired design choices in your life, leave a comment below!




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