Issus Nymph

A living creature with mechanical gears in its body might sound like science fiction; truth is, it’s science fact. Evolution defies belief at times; not in a “all God’s creatures” way, in a ” holy crap mother nature – you kick ass” way. She wakes up one morning and says “hey little hopper nymphs, your’re never going to grow up if up can’t escape these birds”. Acutely observant, ever vigilant mother nature gives these little insects mechanical gears in their legs; allowing them to arch their body like drawing an arrow on a bow, engaging gears at the top of their legs,  then launching themselves at 400 g’s – 20 times more force than the human body could stand.

Today, a group of UK scientists released their findings on the Issus Nymph in the journal Science. It seems mother nature cares but believes in tough love. Young Issus hoppers –  who primarily reside around English Ivy – are given this unique “crested wave” set of gears; a feature that stays with them through 5 or 6 moltings. When they molt for the last time – thus becoming an adult Issus – the gears disappear. Now they have to rub their back legs against rough surfaces for the friction needed to take leaps. Just like all the other hopping insects – how crazy is that?

A link to the article from Popular Mechanics…

Issus nymph

Issus nymph

Malcolm Burrows