How far can a Grasshopper hop?

How far can a Grasshopper hop? 

A Grasshopper is a plant-eating insect in the Orthoptera order and is common across the globe. It is terrestrial (a ground-dweller) with powerful back legs and wings.

It jumps without using its wings. It extends its large, powerful hind (back) legs and pushes against the ground to lift off. The force of the push propels it into the air. 

The Grasshopper’s legs have both high force (to lift it up) and high velocity (speed) of movement, but its leg muscles cannot do both at the same time. 

Therefore, it uses a catapult mechanism to leap, jump, or hop, in three stages: 1) it fully flexes the lower part of the back leg (the tibia) against the upper part of the back leg (femur) by activating the flexor tibiae muscle, 2) it co-contracts the large pennate extensor tibiae muscle while keeping the tibia flexed (like an elastic band being pulled back), and 3) it triggers the relaxation of the flexor muscle which releases the tibia from the flexed position. 

The energy stored by the muscle contraction and rapid relaxation of the mechanical elastic structures helps to catapult the grasshopper into the air.

Using this three-stage catapult mechanism, a Grasshopper can hop 20 times the length of its body. 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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