How do froghoppers jump so far, so fast? Ken Thompson has the answer

A common froghopper (Philaenus spumarius) 
A common froghopper (Philaenus spumarius)  Credit: Sandra Standbridge / Moment RF

Suddenly, and rather surprisingly, the humble froghopper is front-page news, as a possible vector of the deadly bacterial plant disease Xylella fastidiosa, should it ever arrive in Britain. Gardeners are being asked to report sightings of the bugs or, more specifically, the blobs of froth (“cuckoo spit”) that young froghopper nymphs blow out of their backsides, and then hide in while feeding on plant xylem fluid. See Helen Yemm, right, for how to do this.

But there’s more to froghoppers than cuckoo spit; as adults, they are capable of some of the fastest and most powerful jumps (for their size) in the animal kingdom – far outperforming real frogs. Acceleration from a standing start to a take-off...

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