Flight mills are commonly used to assess the relative flight performance of migratory insects, but uncertainties about the rate of energy expenditure on the mill mean that absolute estimates of flight endurance are not usually attempted. In this paper we describe how we measured the power delivered to a lightweight flight mill by tethered Cicadulina storeyi China leafhoppers (Homoptera: Cicadellidae), and compared this to estimates of the power they use to maintain free flight. Our results showed that the leafhoppers were generating more than 0.90 W of mechanical power when on the mill, and that they probably have 3–4 W available for free flight. We conclude that whilst flying on the mill, the insects were generating at least 20–30% of the mechanical power needed for free flight, and that this percentage may have been significantly higher.
Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata (1997) 83 (3) 317-322 [DOI: 10.1023/A:1003034517752]