Jumping champs

In the Master volunteer classes I teach every year on entomology, I race through so many different kinds of insects that I fear I do all a disservice.  One group I always mention in passing are the different kinds of homopterous insects.  This group includes the “hopper” families: treehoppers, leafhoppers, planthoppers and froghoppers.

These are all plant-sap feeding insects that produce honeydew.  One of the things I mention in class about some of these is that their droppings (excrement) are often so abundant that you can feel them dropping on you like “rain” while standing under an infested tree. Think about that on your next picnic.

But surely the coolest thing about these insects is their ability to jump. The hopper families include some of the most powerful jumpers in the insect world, reaching acceleration forces of 50-Gs and more during take-off.  A fantastic new video this month from North Carolina State entomologist, Dr. Adrian Smith, shows off the jumping prowess of these four families.

In terms of the ability of a medium to engender wonder, high speed videography is the most incredible medium.  I hope you’ll take a few minutes out of your day today to watch and enjoy some of the greatest gymnasts around.

And, Simone Biles, eat your heart out!


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