Living With Breathless Insects


Spiracle of a hornworm caterpillar is larger than many egg paraistoid wasps

Insects have a series of tubes that supply all the cells of their body with oxygen and release carbon dioxide to the outside. Most insects that live in aqueous environments have adaptations that allow gas exchange between their tracheal system and the surrounding fluid. However, some tiny wasp larvae in the families Trichogrammatidae and Mymaridae dispense with the tracheal system altogether.  Larvae  of these tiny egg parasitoids are small enough that oxygen can be supplied by diffusion directly across the cuticle. Carbon dioxide is released through the cuticle into the yolk of the host egg. The absence of trachea creates more space for other internal organs.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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