Motor activity and trajectory control during escape jumping in the locust Locusta migratoria

Roger D. Santer, Yoshifumi Yamawaki, F. Claire Rind, Peter J. Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated the escape jumps that locusts produce in response to approaching objects. Hindleg muscular activity during an escape jump is similar to that during a defensive kick. Locusts can direct their escape jumps up to 50°either side of the direction of their long axis at the time of hindleg flexion, allowing them to consistently jump away from the side towards which an object is approaching. Variation in jump trajectory is achieved by rolling and yawing movements of the body that are controlled by the fore- and mesothoracic legs. During hindleg flexion, a locust flexes the foreleg ipsilateral to its eventual jump trajectory and then extends the contralateral foreleg. These foreleg movements continue throughout co-contraction of the hindleg tibial muscles, pivoting the locust's long axis towards its eventual jump trajectory. However, there are no bilateral differences in the motor programs of the left and right hindlegs that correlate with jump trajectory. Foreleg movements enable a locust to control its jump trajectory independent of the hindleg motor program, allowing a decision on jump trajectory to be made after the hindlegs have been cocked in preparation for a jump.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-975
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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