Insect legs could help engineers improve the safety of long tubular structures used in aircraft to reduce weight and in hospital equipment, such as catheters. Scientists from Trinity College Dublin are looking at how the different leg shapes of locusts, cockroaches, stick insects and bees bend and buckle when stress is applied to them.
"Thin-walled tubes are prone to failure by buckling", said Professor David Taylor, one of the lead researchers. "It is difficult to predict the loading conditions which cause buckling, especially for tubes of non-standard cross section. Think of a drinking straw. If you bend it, it will suddenly give."