Power for the Jump

Spittle bug

Pine Spittlebug
Top Left: Frothy masses of Spittlebug Larvae on Pine Trees
Bottom Left: Leaf Flagging
Top Right: Larva is barely visible under a cloak of froth
Middle Right: Larva Plucked from the Tree
Bottom Right: Adult is covered in early morning dew

Froghoppers can jump large distances compared to their height. Some species can generate a jumping force that is 400 times their body mass. How do they generate the force? Froghoppers have a complex structure, the pleural arch, that links the coxae of the hind legs to the hinge of the hind wings. In froghoppers, the pleural arch is a composite structure consisting of flexible resilin and stiff cuticle that performs like a compound bow. Contraction of a powerful muscle causes the pleural arch to flex like a bow and store energy for a jump. When the muscle relaxes, the pleural arch changes shape and delivers a powerful force to the legs that powers the jump. The resilin accommodates the strain created in the cuticle and allows the body to maintain its shape during the jump.

Malcolm Burrows, Stephen R Shaw and Gregory P Sutton. Resilin and chitinous cuticle form a composite structure for energy storage in jumping by froghopper insects. BMC Biology20086:41.Published: 30 September 2008
DOI: 10.1186/1741-7007-6-41

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Power for the Jump

  1. Pingback: Power for the Jump – Entomo Planet

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