skip to content

Department of Zoology


Professor Malcolm Burrows and colleagues from South Africa have written a paper that shows that a newly discovered species of cockroach jumps, unlike the 4000 other cockroaches which merely scuttle around.

This new cockroach, less than 10 mm long,  comes from Cape Town in South Africa and lives in the fynbos alongside grasshoppers that also jump. Its jumping movements were captured with a high speed camera operating at 2000 frames per second. These images show that this cockroach propels its jumping by rapid movements of enlarged hind legs. The muscles of these legs contract well before take-off thus storing energy which is then suddenly released in the manner of a catapult. The jumps are powerful enough to propel the body forwards by nearly 50 body lengths (humans can only manage about 2 body lengths) at take-off velocities of 2.1 metres per second while experiencing an acceleration of 23 g (we would pass out at about 5 g). Jumping makes up a large proportion of their normal movement, enabling them to move swiftly and agilely between grass and sedge culms. They speculate on why this should be the only cockroach to have evolved jumping as a means of moving about rapidly.

You Tube video of "Leaproach"

A cockroach that jumps. Biology Letters