Fast axon activity and the motor pattern in cockroach legs during swimming


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Abstract Electromyographic recordings were made from muscles that extend the trochanter/femur of each of the six legs of American cockroaches, Periplaneta americana (L.), while the insects swam in water. The recordings showed two novel features. (1) During swimming, muscle activity in different legs was coordinated in the alternating tripod pattern commonly seen during free walking on land, not in the pattern of synchronous leg pairs common to other large terrestrial insects in water. (2) Fast axons were usually recruited along with slow axons, even when the insect swam at a moderate pace. Fast axon activity always started after the middle of the slow axon burst in intact insects, but vanished from most bursts in the stump of the leg after amputation of the femur. The alternating tripod pattern was maintained even after amputation. Possible causes of fast axon recruitment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-392
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1990


  • Cockroach
  • Periplaneta americana
  • fast axon
  • locomotion
  • motor pattern
  • sensory feedback.
  • swimming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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