Friday, November 20, 2015

Grasping and tearing and jumping, oh my!

Let's talk about entomology, shall we?

Today's entomology related topic goes along with my Fundamentals of Entomology class. Recently, I was working on the external workings of an insect. One thing you may be interested to know is that unlike legs, arms, and other things, insect wings are not appendages. This is because they are not solidly attached to the body, allowing them to rotate and move at high speeds, allowing the insect to take flight. The more flaps of the wing per second, the faster the insect goes, as well as the louder the buzz.

There are many (7 to be exact) different kinds of insect legs:

  • Ambulatorial - Commonly known as the walking leg. It is the most common type of leg in the insect world and it is also the least specialized. That means it as not as modifed.

  • Cursorial - Commonly seen in insects adept at running, such as tiger beetles and cockroaches, these legs are longer and more slim that ambulatorial, allowing more distance to be covered with the same muscular effort.

  • Saltatorial - Commonly seen in grasshoppers and other jumping insects. As you may have guessed, to SALTATE means to jump or leap. These legs are usually so long that they have 2 knees and are often curled up. You can see this in a grasshopper. The legs anchor the body firmly via use of claws, spine and big feet (tarsal pads). Along with the positioning of the legs at the metathorax (that is the center of the thorax), this allows for the whole body of the insect to be launched with a single leg effort.

  • Have you ever seen the front legs of a mantis? Have you ever noticed that they are like claws? This is an example of the Raptorial Legs. This is where the front legs are modified to grasp prey, while the head engorges itself on the prey. Sometimes they are even modified to cut the prey open, effectively killing it.

  • Natatorial legs are similar to swimmers' arm movements. They allow certain diving beetles to reach depths that they would not be able to otherwise. On these legs are often so called "swimming hairs" which allow the diving beetle to have as little friction as possible when diving and be able to move almost like a fish in the water.

  • Fossorial legs are often seen on mole crickets and cicada nymphs. These legs have a heavy, well aromored build up of bone (very sturdy). The legs also have large tooth projections which enable the owner of the legs to rake through soil to dislodge soil particles that they can use for food.

  • Clasping legs are very rare and are only seen in certain aquatic beetles as their front legs. These legs often have large claws and suckers to hold the female when, how do I put this? When they are mating.

That is all the types of legs. Next time we discuss bugs, we will talk about the Great Gray Slug, as well as the six different types of insect mouth parts.  I will also be telling you about my History of Rock class through University of Rochester and my UC-Irvine grammar class. See you next time on School Stories With Nick (Where school is ALWAYS in session). Thank you for reading today.


Heather Saffer said...

This was very educational, Nick! I never took the time to learn much about bugs. I've always just tried to figure out how to get rid of them ;) Like the other day... There was a giant bug in my car but it wasn't a flying bug. After five minutes of trying to shoo him out the door I was finally able to get him to climb on a protein bar wrapper. From there I placed him on the ground. Had I read your blog post beforehand I would have checked to see how many legs he had!

Thanks for sharing. You're an excellent writer. :)


Nick said...

I am glad I could teach you something about bugs. Keep reading Heather. If you are reading this, Heather was on TV on "Cupcake Wars" and won because she makes delicious cupcakes!