The jump of the click beetle (Coleoptera, Elateridae)—a preliminary study

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Abstract

A preliminary account is given of the jump of the click beetle, Athous haemorrhoidalis (F.). The jump is normally made from an inverted position. It involves a jack-knifing movement whereby a prosternal peg is slid very rapidly down a smooth track into a mesosternal pit. The muscles which produce this movement are allowed to build up tension by a friction hold on the dorsal side of the peg. The anatomy of this jumping mechanism is briefly described. Ciné recording showed that the jump was usually nearly vertical and could exceed 0.3m in height; the beetle normally rotated several times head over tail during a jump. The jump was produced by a very rapid upwards movement of the beetle's centre of gravity during the jack-knifing action. In a typical jump, a 4 × 10−5 kg beetle could be subjected to an upwards acceleration of 3800 m/s−2 (380 g). The minimum work done and the power output of the muscles causing jumping have been calculated. A simple mechanical model has been constructed to simulate a jump, and several possible ways in which the jumping mechanism could operate have been discussed.

Ancillary