Jumping Larvae

Can insect larvae display jump behaviour?

A team of researchers from North Carolina State University's Plant Disease and Insect Clinic has discovered a jumping behaviour that is entirely new to insect larvae, and there is evidence that it is occurring in a range of species. The previously unrecorded behaviour occurs in the larvae of a species of lined flat bark beetle (Laemophloeus biguttatus) . Specifically, the larvae are able to spring into the air, with each larva curling itself into a loop as it leaps forward.

While there are other insect species that are capable of making prodigious leaps, they rely on something called a “latch-mediated spring actuation mechanism”. This means that they essentially have two parts of their body latch onto each other while the insect exerts force, building up a significant amount of energy. The insect then unlatches the two parts, releasing all of that energy at once, allowing it to spring off the ground.

What makes the L. biguttatus so remarkable is that it makes these leaps without latching two parts of its body together. It uses claws on its legs to grip the ground while it builds up that potential energy — and once those claws release their hold on the ground, that potential energy is converted into kinetic energy, launching it skyward.

To determine how L. biguttatus was able to execute its acrobatics, the researchers filmed the jumps at speeds of up to 60,000 frames per second.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 9:06:30 am |