How the Aptly Named Springtail Hexapod Can Flip Itself Backwards Remarkably Fast and High

Dr. Adrian Smith of Ant Lab and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences captured high definition, slow motion footage showing how the aptly named Springtail hexapod is able to jump so quickly, spinning backwards at a rate of 290 flips per second, and so high, jumping to 86 times their own height, despite being such tiny beings. The height and speed of the jumps are due to an extra appendage called the furcula, which helps the hexapod with such tasks as jumping, balance, and righting itself.

Whether they jump off a solid ground or water, it’s all powered by a spring-loaded appendage tucked underneath their bodies called the furcula. …There are two points in the jump when the furcula is moving too fast to see. The first is when it’s released from the body to the ground. And this makes sense. That’s the point at which the stored energy of their internal spring system is released and they’re starting their jump. The second, though, is different. It’s the point at which the tips of the furcula lose contact with the ground. The tail seems to be in tension and, when it’s released, it flings back behind the body.

Springtail Jump

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.