A froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata) in the middle of the hops
Avalon / Photoshot License / Alamy
A mathematical solution to a biological puzzle that may not actually exist could prove useful in designing hopping rovers for space exploration.
Alberto Vailati at the University of Milan normally researches the physics of fluid dynamics. About 10 years ago, after noticing jumping insects while on vacation, he was intrigued to read some laboratory studies that saw insects, including fruit fly larvae, gall mosquito larvae, and froghoppers, jumping with an average launch angle of about 60 degrees.
The idea that many different types of insects …