Published for the Company of Biologists Ltd. by the Cambridge University Press
The Journal of Experimental Biology vol:219 pages:2127-2136
Many insects such as fleas, froghoppers and grasshoppers use a catapult mechanism to jump, and a direct consequence of this is that their take-off velocities are independent of their mass. In contrast, insects such as mantises, caddis flies and bush crickets propel their jumps by direct muscle contractions. What constrains the jumping performance of insects that use this second mechanism? To answer this question, the jumping performance of the mantis Stagmomantis theophila was measured through all its developmental stages, from 5mg first instar nymphs to 1200mg adults. Older and heavier mantises have longer hind and middle legs and higher take-off velocities than younger and lighter mantises. The length of the propulsive hind and middle legs scaled approximately isometrically with body mass (exponent=0.29 and 0.32, respectively). The front legs, which do not contribute to propulsion, scaled with an exponent of 0.37. Take-off velocity increased with increasing body mass (exponent=0.12). Time to accelerate increased and maximum acceleration decreased, but the measured power that a given mass of jumping muscle produced remained constant throughout all stages. Mathematical models were used to distinguish between three possible limitations to the scaling relationships: first, an energy- limited model (which explains catapult jumpers); second, a power- limited model; and third, an acceleration-limited model. Only the model limited by muscle power explained the experimental data. Therefore, the two biomechanical mechanisms impose different limitations on jumping: those involving direct muscle contractions (mantises) are constrained by muscle power, whereas those involving catapult mechanisms are constrained by muscle energy.