Autotomized legs of the stick insect Cuniculina impigra bend rapidly and rhythmically at the femur-tibia joint. These flexions occur at a frequency 1–6 Hz immediately after autotomy and decrease in frequency and amplitude with time. Each flexion is produced by a burst of 1–14 action potentials in a single motor axon of the flexor tibiae muscle (bursting axon). These rhythmic discharges are generated in a very restricted part of the crural nerve, which contains the bursting axon, close to the autotomy point and appear whenever the nerve is cut in the immediate vicinity of this generator region. Rhythmic flexion can also be elicited by electrical stimulation of the crural nerve.
The bursting axon is of small diameter. It innervates all or most of flexor tibiae muscle in which it produces relatively large EPSPs. Each EPSP elicits one muscle twitch. These fuse into a brief tetanus, whose amplitude is proportional to the number of spikes in a burst. Each tetanus produces one flexion.
This behaviour does not occur in the autotomized legs of several related species.