Being able to jump is a hugely advantageous skill out in the wilds of nature. Being able to quickly propel yourself into the air means you can get away from something trying to eat you or towards something you are trying to eat. Kangaroos use jumping as their primary way of getting around while cats use it to pounce on prey. Foxes are known to be partial to trampolines.

In the insect world, some species have evolved remarkable abilities to accurately hurl themselves vast distances. Some of the jumping bugs I highlighted here throw themselves the equivalent of a human jumping hundreds of feet in the air over the length of a football field. Engineers have learned a lot about the mechanics of robotic jumping from insects (case in point- the “Sand Flea“) but haven’t really begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible when the mechanics of insect jumpers are translated to human engineered devices.

Here are four insects who have mastered the art of the jump. There is a lot to be learned here. Enjoy!


In 2003, researchers from the University of Cambridge in England declared a new champion in the world of insect jumpers—the froghopper. The small bug (0.2 inches long) uses a unique propulsion system to jump more than two feet in the air. Froghoppers use their bounding leaps to avoid predators and to search for food.

What’s maybe even more remarkable than the length and height of their jumps is what they have to endure to make them—froghoppers experience more than 400g’s when they jump. Humans pass out around five g’s.

The froghopper uses two large muscles to catapult itself around, literally locking its back legs down in such a way that they hold until their jumping muscles have generated enough energy to break the lock and send the insect flying through the air. This release of energy happens so fast that it proved difficult for scientists to capture it happening using a video camera capable of shooting 2,000 frames per second. The frog hoppers jump took up exactly two of those 1/000 second frames.


Fleas are one of the more well-known of the jumping insects and is not a creature that most people like having around. Fleas are parasites that make a living sucking blood from their host animal. They use their mighty jumps to get around and to hurl themselves onto new host animals. It was discovered in the 70s that fleas store up energy in their body to make their jumps, but the exact mechanism wasn’t actually known until recently when faster high speed cameras showed that they actually push off with their “toes”, not their “knees”, as many entomologists had believed.


The grasshopper is the insect that jumps to most peoples mind when you think of leaping bugs. Grasshoppers have long hinged legs that they use to both walk around and jump when needed. Although the Froghopper can jump farther than the grasshopper, relative to its size, the grasshopper is still highly respected (among those who respect insects for their jumping ability) for its prodigious leaps. The muscles they use to make their jumps have been shown to have ten times the raw power than the strongest human muscle cell. The only known muscles in the world that are stronger are the ones used by clams to shut their shells, and even then the grasshoppers muscles fire more rapidly.


Katydids look a lot like grasshoppers though they are more closely related to crickets. Like grasshoppers, katydids have large hinged legs that it uses to make enormous jumps. Unlike the grasshopper, katydids typically have long antennae that can grow longer than the rest of their body. There are hundreds of species of katydids and many combine a great leaping ability with masterful camouflage, perfectly blending into their green and leafy surroundings, ready to jump away if necessary.

Photo credits: Header image, Froghopper, flea, grasshopper, & katydid.