Stick Insects: Metachronal Gait and Introducing Stumpy

sticky-30Latest edition in my occasional stick insect updates, and finally I’ve convinced one of them to do something other than a tripod gait on video. In the literature they seem to use first instar specimens because they are less prone to behaving like, well, sticks! In the pursuit of the videos below I did end up with one 10 minute film of one insect refusing to move despite any number of prods and pushes. Also below, one of the insects has lost a leg, and as it has already reached it’s final adult stage will not grow a new one… I managed a couple of seconds of gait filming before it too ran out of steam, I’ll try and get a longer analysis at some point but since some of my students are about to hand in an assignment which contains a question on possible gaits of a five legged insect I thought I’d post this one as a teaser.

So firstly a few photos of the intact specimen, and then a film of a metachronal gait followed by the familiar tripod:

Metachronal Gait (left hand legs clearest)

And then my poor 5 legged insect, who I’ve named “Stumpy”. I stress that this was not done deliberately, it is quite common for sick insects to lose damaged limbs, and he does not seem to be in any distress!

Stumpy the Stick Insect Walking


Mathematician at the University of Warwick in the UK with research interests in equivariant bifurcation theory and applications, especially in modelling of insect locomotion. Teaching interests include online learning and innovative teaching methods. Also in a past life has been involved in summer school courses, and online material, for Gifted and Talented. He has been active on the Internet since 1995, initially though his UFO and Michael Schenker website, but now through a multitude of projects.

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