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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #328763

Research Project: Beetle Taxonomy and Systematics Supporting U.S. Agriculture, Arboriculture and Biological Control

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: The jump of flea beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Alticini): structures, mechanism and kinematics

item YONGYING, RUAN - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item Konstantinov, Alexander - Alex
item GUANYA, SHI - Non ARS Employee
item JIANING, WU - Georgia Institute Of Technology
item SIQIN, GE - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item XINGKE, YANG - Chinese Academy Of Sciences

Submitted to: Zootaxa
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/26/2019
Publication Date: 2/24/2020
Citation: Yongying, R., Konstantinov, A.S., Guanya, S., Jianing, W., Siqin, G., Xingke, Y. 2020. The jump of flea beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Alticini): structures, mechanism and kinematics. Zootaxa. 915:87-105.

Interpretive Summary: Leaf beetles, especially flea beetles, are among the most important insects for U.S. agriculture. Many are serious pests and feed on crops destroying valuable plants costing millions of dollars annually. Others are important biological control agents that can be used to control unwanted and invasive weeds. This work describes and illustrates a catapult jumping mechanism of flea beetles, which helps them to escape predators. This study will be useful to biological control workers, taxonomists, ecologists, and anyone interested in plant feeding beetles.

Technical Abstract: Jumping mechanism of flea beetles is not well understood. To advance our knowledge of morphology and function of this mechanism we used micro-CT scanning and 3D reconstruction of the hind leg of Altica cirsicola Ohno, 1960 and Ophrida xanthospilota Baly, 1881. Their jumping kinematics were measured based on high-speed films. We found that flea beetles jump with a mechanism that resembles a catapult, which amplifies the power output of muscles and lowers energy wasting. The jump procedure consists of four major phases: Crunching, Cocontraction, Triggering & Acceleration and Relaxation. Although the whole takeoff procedure takes more than dozens of milliseconds, the major acceleration happens within approximately 2 milliseconds. It also occurs that Altica cirsicola has a relative stable takeoff velocity and jumping height, which supports the hypothesis of the application of catapult mechanism in its jumps. A new structure the ‘elastic plate’ is discovered and named as it plays an important role in triggering of the jump.