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Download Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 3: Insects by Michael Hutchins (ed.) PDF

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By Michael Hutchins (ed.)

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Diffusion alone is sufficient to account for the oxygen requirements of the tissues of small insects at rest. Larger insects and active insects, however, require some form of forced ventilation of the tracheal system. This is made possible by sections of the tracheae that are expanded into balloon-like air sacs. Unlike the tracheae themselves, the air sacs are sub22 The two sets of wings on this brown-spotted yellow wing dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) are clearly visible. (Photo by Larry West. Bruce Coleman, Inc.

Essentially similar but very small hairs occur in groups called hair plates at some joints in the cuticle, where they function as proprioceptors. The hairs are bent over and stimulated when one segment of cuticle moves toward another. Hair plates are present on the basal segments of the antenna and on the small sclerites in the neck membrane. They give information on the position of the antenna relative to the head and the head relative to the thorax, respectively. Many other types of mechanoreceptors are present in the cuticle, detecting stress on the cuticle and within the body.

In the immature stages of aquatic insects the number of spiracles is greatly reduced, and they may be absent altogether in insects that obtain oxygen directly from the water, such as dragonfly and mayfly nymphs. These insects are said to be “apneustic,” but even in them the tracheal system is retained. This allows for much more rapid diffusion of oxygen around the body than if oxygen were dissolved in the hemolymph. Most adult insects have two pairs of wings, one pair on each of the second and third thoracic segments, or the mesothoracic and metathoracic segments.

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