Roanoke College professor discovers leaping larvae

Published: Aug. 27, 2019 at 4:58 PM EDT
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A professor at Roanoke College has gained national attention after discovering a type of leaping larvae.

Michael Wise is a visiting professor and ecologist at Roanoke College.

For years, he has been studying the bugs that live in goldenrod plants. But in 2012, while dissecting a specific type of goldenrod known as a silverod, he found a set of unique insects.

“I thought that I had been looking at the microscope too long,” Wise said.

That’s because after pulling out dozens of larvae, his Petri dish was practically empty.

“So I just sat there a few minutes to try and figure out if I was losing my mind and then I saw out of the corner of my eye a little bit of motion,” Wise said.

The orange insects were jumping out of the dish and across the room.

Now, years after the first discovery, Wise has been able to take a closer look at exactly how the larvae leap.

He teamed up with a colleague at Duke University to capture a slow motion video and publish a paper.

“I feel a little bit vindicated, now that people can that these larvae are jumping,” he said.

The paper created a buzz in the science community getting write-ups in the


Jumping insects, or even larvae is not a new phenomenon, but Wise said the way these larvae curl their body and create the pressure to leap is unique.

He said it could even help inspire future inventions.

“It might help in the new field of soft robotics for instance,” Wise said.

Or just give people a new appreciation for the unique aspects of nature,

Copyright 2019/WDBJ7. All rights reserved.

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