Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A Fly Larva that tolerates Dehydration and Temperatures of −270° to +102° C.


THE chironomid, Polypedilum vanderplanki Hint., breeds in small pools formed in shallow hollows on unshaded rocks in Horthern Nigeria and Uganda. The hollows are often only 5–9 in. deep, and during the rainy season they may fill and dry several times. When the pools dry up the larvæ also dry up and remain in this condition until it rains again, when, in about 1 hr. or so they resume feeding. The degree to which the larvæ dry up depends upon the relative humidity of the air. When moisture content was plotted against relative humidity, it was found that at 0 per cent relative humidity it was less than 3 per cent, at 60 per cent relative humidity it was 8 per cent, and at higher humidities the curve rose more steeply. In saturated air the moisture content altered from 3 to 33 per cent within 6 hr. at 25° C. The figures for moisture content are based on the assumption that the larva contains no water when its weight is constant at 106° C. The capacity to tolerate repeated dehydration is clearly of selective value to this species, and in the laboratory larvæ have survived as many as 10 dehydrations to a moisture content below 8 per cent. Between dehydrations they were allowed to feed in water, usually for 1–4 days.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. Hinton, H. E., Trans. Soc. Brit. Ent., 11, 209 (1953).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Hinton, H. E., Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 121, 371 (1951).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Buxton, P. A., J. Ecol., 12, 127 (1924).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

HINTON, H. A Fly Larva that tolerates Dehydration and Temperatures of −270° to +102° C.. Nature 188, 336–337 (1960).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing