Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect's extraordinary precision, say researchers. Jim Drury reports.
The praying mantis has one of the most precise leaps in the insect kingdom. That's according to researchers Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton, of the universities of Cambridge and Bristol. They recorded 58 young mantises jumping towards a thin rod. Monitoring the slowed-down footage, they witnessed the insects' detailed preparation and ability to land on target every time. Such jump control is unusual among insects, most of whom lose control once their legs leave the ground, resulting in frequent crash landings. The study is reported in March 5th's Current Biology journal.