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A single raindrop can weigh 50 times as much as a mosquito. So how can the insects fly through a downpour and come out alive? A new study reports that the answer lies in the mosquito’s low mass and its strong exoskeleton.

An author of the study, David L. Hu, a mechanical engineer and biologist at the Georgia Institute of Technology said that most of the time, mosquitoes simply do not resist the impact of a water drop and instead “go with the flow,” as he put it.

“It’s kind of like boxing with a balloon,” he explained. “There’s no way to pop the balloon because it doesn’t resist you at all.”

About 25 percent of the time, raindrops fall directly between a mosquito’s wings. In these cases, the mosquito is absorbed into the falling water drop, but it pulls away just before the drop hits the ground.

[Excerpted from the New York Times]