Washington, November 16 : University of Cambridge researchers have found that froghoppers use archery techniques to achieve the jump of 700 mm, more than 100 times their own body length.
Writing about their findings in the open access journal BMC Biology, the researchers have revealed that froghoppers achieve their prowess by flexing bow-like structures between their hind legs and wings and releasing the energy in one giant leap in a catapult-like action.
Research leader Malcolm Burrows said that his research focused on determining how the energy generated by the insects' muscles is stored before powering a jump.
He said: "A froghopper stores energy by bending a paired bow-shaped part of its internal skeleton called a 'pleural arch' which is a composite structure made of layers of hard cuticle and a rubbery protein called resilin. When the froghopper contracts its muscles to jump, these arches flex like a composite archery bow, and then on recoil catapult it forwards with a force that can be over 400 times its body mass".
The researcher also said that there were further parallels with the jumping mechanisms of froghoppers and the design of composite bows used in archery.
He said that the composite of a hard and an elastic material meant that the skeleton of a froghopper, or an archery bow, could resist damage even if they were bent for a long time.
According to him, froghoppers hold the pleural arch in a bent 'ready position', ready to jump at a moment's notice, and to be able to jump repeatedly without damaging the body.