Effectiveness and efficiency of two distinct mechanisms for take-off in a derbid planthopper insect

Malcolm Burrows, Abin Ghosh, H. M. Yeshwanth, Marina Dorosenko, Sanjay P. Sane
2018 Journal of Experimental Biology  
Analysis of the kinematics of take-off in the planthopper Proutista moesta (Hemiptera, Fulgoroidea, family Derbidae) from high-speed videos showed that these insects used two distinct mechanisms involving different appendages. The first was a fast take-off (55.7% of 106 take-offs by 11 insects) propelled by a synchronised movement of the two hind legs and without participation of the wings. The body was accelerated in 1 ms or less to a mean take-off velocity of 1.7 m s-1 while experiencing
more » ... e experiencing average forces of more than 150 times gravity. The power required from the leg muscles implicated a power-amplification mechanism. Such take-offs propelled the insect along its trajectory a mean distance of 7.9 mm in the first 5 ms after take-off. The second and slower take-off mechanism (44.3% of take-offs) was powered by beating movements of the wings alone, with no discernible contribution from the hind legs. The resulting mean acceleration time was 16 times slower at 17.3 ms, the mean final velocity was six times lower at 0.27 m s-1, the g forces experienced were 80 times lower and the distance moved in 5 ms after take-off was 7 times shorter. The power requirements could be readily met by direct muscle contraction. The results suggest a testable hypothesis that the two mechanisms serve distinct behavioural actions: the fast take-offs could enable escape from predators and the slow take-offs that exert much lower ground reaction forces could enable take-off from more flexible substrates while also displacing the insect in a slower and more controllable trajectory.
doi:10.1242/jeb.191494 pmid:30446544 fatcat:zekwn7yqg5hhjf3xievh3wzpqy