The littoral Collembola Cryptopygus clavatus spends the summer submerged, grazing on algae under water, and the winter on dry land. The cuticles of Collembola are, in general, highly water repellent, often superhydrophobic; the cuticle of C. clavatus has, in contrast, been described as not water repellent. Wetting properties are closely tied to surface structuring, and previous studies of Collembola cuticles have used the pattern of cuticular granules to explain the superhydrophobic properties of these cuticles. The wetting properties of the cuticles of C. clavatus were measured on animals acclimated to summer and winter. A significant difference in wetting performance was observed. Animals acclimated to winter conditions showed superhydrophobic non-wetting properties. Animals acclimated to summer conditions were not superhydrophobic, water droplets readily adhered to their cuticles. This large change in wetting behavior of the cuticle could not be explained by changes in the cuticular surface structure, which were very limited. Instead, we suggest a change in the epicuticular wax layer could explain the differences.
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