A multilayer micromechanical model of the cuticle of Curculio longinasus Chittenden, 1927 (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)

M. Andrew Jansen, Sudhanshu S. Singh, Nikhilesh Chawla, Nico Franz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Curculio longinasus Chittenden, 1927 (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), is a weevil species common throughout the southwestern United States that uses its rostrum – a very slender, curved, beak-like projection of the head – to excavate tunnels in plant organs (such as acorns) for egg laying (oviposition). Once the apical portion of the rostrum has been inserted into the preferred substrate for oviposition, the female begins rotating around the perimeter of the hole, elevating her head by extending the fore-legs, and rotating the head in place in a drilling motion. This action causes significant elastic deformation of the rostrum, which will bend until it becomes completely straight. To better understand the mechanical behavior of the cuticle as it undergoes deformation during the preparation of oviposition sites, we develop a comprehensive micro/macro model of the micromechanical structure and properties of the cuticle, spanning across all cuticular regions, and reliably mirroring the resultant macroscale properties of the cuticle. Our modeling approach relies on the use of multi-scale, hierarchical biomaterial representation, and employs various micromechanical schemata – e.g., Mori–Tanaka, effective field, and Maxwell – to calculate the homogenized properties of representative volume elements at each level in the hierarchy. We describe the configuration and behavior of this model in detail, and discuss the theoretical implications and limitations of this approach with emphasis on future biomechanical and comparative evolutionary research. Our detailed account of this approach can thereby serve as a methodological template for exploring the biomechanical behavior of new insect structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-158
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Beetle cuticle
  • Chitin
  • Curculionidae
  • Elastic properties
  • Homogenization
  • Multilayer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology


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