Micro-CT scans are changing the way we view insects. They allow entomologists to probe the inside of insects and map the cavities. The insect tracheal system is a system of hollow tubes and air sacs amenable to exploration by CT scans. Some of the structures are small, are surrounded by hard tissue and are not readily dissected.
A group of scientists* used micro CT scans to map the tracheal system and location of air sacs in the desert locust. They were able to differentiate air sac from air spaces inside digestive organs. They were able to compute the volume of the trachea system in agreement with independent methods by other techniques. The computer data could be sent to a 3-D printer to produce structural models. Particularly impressive is the detail in many of the hard tissue structures such as the labium. The combination of micro CT and 3-D printing has great potential to better communicate information about insect structures
*Mark Greco*, Duncan Bell, Lewis Woolnough, Stephen Laycock, Nick Corps, David Mortimore & Diana Hudson. 2014. 3-D visualisation, printing, and volume determination of the tracheal respiratory system in the adult desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 152: 42–51.