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Insects and
Human Society

Lecture 3: Insect Anatomy

External Morphology
p gy

Insects are heterotrophic invertebrates w/ an

articulated exoskeleton and 6-legged adults

Living organisms

Kingdom: Animalia

Ph l
Phylum: Arthropoda
A th d

Class: Insecta


External Anatomy
¾ Study of external anatomy is called Morphology
¾ Morphology is coined by Goethe in 1822 from
the Greek world Morphē (= Form) and the German
world Logie (= study)
¾ Morphology is the branch of biology that deals
with form and structure of animals and plants
¾ External anatomy is important to 1) understand
the functions of the various insect designs and to 2)
allow identification of insects and their relatives

Objectives of Lecture

Describe and discuss the functions of

t body
b d parts
t off insects:
i t
¾ Cuticle
¾ Body segmentation
¾ Structure of head, thorax,
abdomen and their appendages


The cuticle
¾Provides the strong exoskeleton of body (that
serve to give rigid structure & protect
internall organs)) andd the
h apodemes
d (internal
(i l
support and attachment point for muscles)
¾Cuticle may range from rigid and armor-like
(adult beetles) to thin and flexible (many
¾ Prevention of water loss (desiccation) is a
critical function of the cuticle
¾Key contributor of the success of insect

The cuticle
¾ Cuticle is a thin layer but a complex structure
™ Epidermis: Single layer that lies beneath and
t theth cuticle
ti l
™ Cuticle is composed of the thicker procuticle
overlaid with thin epicuticle
™ Epidermis and cuticle together form an
integument (or body wall) which is the outer
covering of living tissues of an insect
™ In between sclerites the body wall is softer –
allows for growth, expansion and movement


The Body Wall

¾The body wall or integument is composed of a
layer of cells called the epidermis, with the
basement membrane on the inside and the cuticle
on the outside


The body wall-cuticle

• The epicuticle (top layer) prevents water loss,
repels excessive water, deters predation, provides
patterns for mimicry, reflect solar
• The exocuticle gives the cuticle its strength and
resilience and is formed from chitin (also base for
wood, hair, horns)


The body wall-Pigments

¾Brown and black pigments called melanin are
present in cuticle to give insect color
¾other colors may be possible by other pigments
with clear cuticle or diffraction patterns in cuticle
to give iridescence

Some basic terminology

Rear Front




Segmentation and Tagmosis

¾Arthropod body is composed of several segments
¾Primitive insects were worm-like with many
segments (generally
(generall 20)
¾In today’s insects, segments are grouped into
function units or regions or tagmata -- this
process is called Tagmosis
¾The 20 original segments composing insects are
grouped into 3 regions:
™Head (6 segments)
™Thorax (3 segments)
™Abdomen (11 segments)

• Insect: Derived from the Latin word

“insecticum” meaning ‘cut into’
• Insect body is cut into three parts: Head
(H) Thorax (T) & Abdomen (A)


Primary Functions of Tagmata

¾ Head
™Sensory perception
™Neural integration
™Food gathering and manipulation
¾ Thorax
¾ Abdomen
™Houses visceral organs (Digestion,
Reproduction, etc…)

Insect Head
™Head is entirely encased in rigid exoskeleton
™No sign of segmentation
™A t i partt off the
™Anterior th head
h d isi the
th frons

™Based on the inclination of the long axis of the head compared
to the entire body, there are 3 basic types of orientation
™ Prognathus: long axis of head horizontal and in line w/ long
axis of insect body
™ Hypognathus: long axis of head is at right angle (vertical) to
the long axis of insect body
™ Opisthognathus: long axis of head horizontal, but the tip
end is directed backward and arises between the anterior legs


Insect Head
• Composed of the cranum, insect head bears eyes
(compound eyes and ocelli), antennae and



Insect Head -- Eyes (Insect Vision)

¾Compound Eyes
™ Compound eyes are large and well developed w/ many small
individual facets or ommatidia (ommatidium in singular); has
lli lens
l andd light
li h concentrating
i cells
™ Form a picture of what insects see (light sensitive)
™ Present in most adult insects but absent from larvae
¾Ocelli (Ocellus)
™ Simple eyes lack crystalline lens
™ 3 light-sensitive eyes, typically arranged in a triangle are
located in the dark surface on the face of the insect
¾Stemmata (only present on some species)
™ Simple eyes with crystalline lens located laterally on certain
larvae (holometabolous)


Insect Head -- Eyes (Insect Vision)

¾Compound Eyes
™Insects cannot move or focus their eyes; they have a sharp vision
for only a short distance (less than 1 yard)
™they can see a broader range of light rays than people
™Insects have no eye lid, their eyes are always open

™Simple eyes cannot form images
™can only tell differences between dark and light

A fly has huge compound eyes that

cover most of
its head

Insect Head -- Antennae

¾ One pair of antennae
™Most insects have 2 antennae between their eyes
™ These antennae are jointed and mobile
™ Used chiefly to smell and feel (touch)
™ Some insects use antennae to taste and hear
™ Antennae can detect humidity changes, vibrations,
wind velocity and direction, chemical cues
™ Most insects become distress when antennae damaged
or removed and some are helpless


Insect Head -- Antennae

¾ Antennae vary greatly among insects but all
follow a basic plan w/ 3 main divisions
1. basic segment called scape is generally larger than
the other segments; it is inserted into the insect head
2. the second segment or pedicel follows the scape
contains a sensory organ known as Johnston’s organ
that responds to movement of the distal part of the
3. the remaining part is the flagellum is often
filamentous w/ multiple segments
¾ Antennae are reduced or almost absent in some larval
insects (e.g. Hymenoptera)

Insect Head -- Antennae


Insect Head -- Antennae

¾ Numerous variations in the antennae of different insects

Insect Head -- Antennae

• Numerous variations in the antennae of different insects
Type Description Found on
Filiform thread-like field cricket
Setaceous bristle-like cockroach
Capitate head-shaped nitudilid beetle
Clavate tapering club-like butterfly
Lamellate flat plate-like June beetle
Moniliform string of beads termites
Serrate saw toothed click beetle
Geniculate elbowed chalcid
Pectinate comb-like
comb like moth
Plumose with plumes mosquito
Aristate with an arista housefly
Flabellate pile of thick plates cedar beetle


Insect Head -- Mouthparts

¾ Mouthparts
™Group of structures on the lower part of the head that
are adapted to diet
™ Formed from modified appendages of segments
making the head
¾As insects take many forms and have a wide
range of food types, they also have various
mouthparts that can be grouped into two
main categories:
™ Mandibulate (chewing)
™ Haustellate (sucking)

Insect Head -- Mouthparts

1. Mandibulate Mouthparts
™Most primitive mouthparts
™ Adapted to solid diets,
diets these mouthparts are generally
biting and chewing
™Composed of five primary parts:
9the upper lip or labrum
92 jaw-like structures or mandibles
9the maxillae (singular maxilla)
9the lower lip or labium
™Maxillae and labium are further divided into various


Insect Head -- Mouthparts

Insect Head -- Mouthparts

Chewing mouthparts are present in
grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, cockroaches,
beetles caterpillars (larvae of moths and

Ground Beetle
Grasshopper Cricket Black swallowtail caterpillar


Insect Head -- Mouthparts

2. Haustellate Mouthparts
™Used primarily for ‘sucking up’ liquids of fluids
from plants and animals
™ Haustellate mouthparts are divided into 2
groups based on:
9presence or absence of stylet
y is a needle-like p projection
j used to penetrate
plant or animal tissues

Insect Head -- Mouthparts

¾ Haustellate Mouthparts
™Insects w/ stylate MP
have a stylet used to
pierce and pump up
fluids (piercing-
™Insects with stylet
include aphids,
p ,
leafhopper, flies, fleas,


Insect Head -- Mouthparts

¾ Haustellate Mouthparts
™ Some haustellate
mouthparts lack stylet
™Unable to pierce tissue
they must rely on easily
accessible liquid food
such as nectar at the
base of flower
™Insects with nonstylate
MP comprise butterflies,
moths which have long
siphoning proboscis

Insect Head -- Mouthparts

¾ Haustellate Mouthparts
™ Some insects w/haustellate
mouthparts feed on liquid
but also on solid and semi-
solid diet by external
™Solid food is liquefied by
digestive fluids before being
k d up. These
Th insects
have sponging MP
™E.g. Housefly


Insect Head -- Mouthparts

• Haustellate Mouthparts
¾ Some insects
/h t ll t
mouthparts feed on
liquids but also semi-
solid diet by lapping
¾labium modified into a
hairy tongue
¾ E.g. Honeybee

Insect Head -- Mouthparts

¾ Most common five



Insect Head -- Mouthparts

¾Recognition of the types of mouthparts
Insect Name Mouthpart Plant injury
? Chewing Hole in leaves

Aphid ? Removal of
Honey bee Lapping ?

Insect Thorax
¾ Thorax is the locomotor tagma
¾ The thorax of insect consists of 3 segments
p (pro = first))
™mesothorax (meso = middle)
™metathorax (meta = last)
¾ Each segment consists of hardened plates or sclerites
¾ Dorsal sclerite is notum (plural nota), lateral sclerite is
pleuron (plural pleura) and ventral one is sternum (plural
¾ Each of the 3 thoracic segment contains one pair of legs
¾ Wings are found only on the meso- and meta-thorax. No
wings on the prothorax


Insect Thorax

Insect Thorax
• 3 pairs of legs (6 total)
™Fore legs (2) on the prothorax
™mid-legs (2) on the mesothorax
™hind-legs (2) on the metathorax
• Each leg has 6 major components
™coxa (plur. Coxae)
™t h t
™femur (plur. femora)
™tibia (plur. tibiae)
™tarsus (plur. tarsi)
™pretarsus (plur. pretarsi)


Insect Thorax

Femur and Tibia are generally the longest segments

Insect Thorax
¾ Leg modification: Insect legs are modified for adaptation to
various functions
™walking (gressorial or ambulatorial) like in field cricket
™runningi (cursorial)
( i l) like
lik in
i roaches
™grasping (raptorial) like in praying mantis
™digging (fossorial) like in Gryllotalpa (ground-dwelling insects)
™clinging (scansorial) like in fleas
™hearing (tympanum) like in prothoracic leg of grasshopper
™swimming (natatorial) like in scavenger beetle
™jumping (saltarorial) like in hind legs of grasshopper
™clasping legs in some males to hold females, e.g. Dytiscus male
™making sound (stridulatory organ) like in tettigoniid
™collecting food like pollen, e.g. metathoracic leg of bees


Insect Thorax -- Common types of legs

Insect Thorax
™When present, wings arise from the meso- and
metathorax, but many insects are wingless (without wings or
™Typically, there are 2 pairs of wings, but in few groups
wings are reduced to one pair (true flies or Diptera)
™Wings are mostly membranous but in beetles the forewings
y ) are hard cases and do not take ppart of flight
™Membranous wings are supported by thickened ribs called
™Pattern of arrangement of these veins used in insect


Insect Thorax
¾Wing regions

Insect Thorax -- Wing Variation

- Elytra for protection

- Halteres: hind wings completely

reduced to mere nubs used for
b l
balance andd direction
di i during
d i flight
fli h
(e.g. true flies)

- In some male insects, sound producing mechanisms (file and scraper)

are present on the underside of forewings and forelegs-- sound used
mating calls (e.g. male grasshopper).


Insect Abdomen
• Insect abdomen has 11 segments although segment 1 may be
reduced or incorporated into the thorax (e.g. Hymenoptera) and the
last 2 segments are variously modified or diminished
• hard dorsal part of abdomen is tergum (terga) and ventral part is
sternum (sterna)
• Dorsal and ventral plates are joined together by a soft inter-
segmental membranes
• There are small dark openings (spiracles) set into the soft
membranous area, each along side the abdomen-- one pair on each
• 2 pairs of spiracles are also present on the thorax
• a pair of cerci of the 11th abdominal segment; cerci permit
sensory pickup from the back

Insect Abdomen


Insect Abdomen
¾Abdomen hosts major viscera, heart, and
reproductive organs
¾ Reproductive organs are located on the 9th
segment for males (aedegus or penis and often a
pair of claspers) and on the 8th and 9th
abdominal segments for females (external
ggenitalia or copulatory
p y openings
p g and ovipositor
for egg laying)
¾In higher Hymenoptera, the ovipositor is modified
to form a poison injecting apparatus, the sting
(wasps, bees) used for defense

Summary of Insect Body


Study questions
• How many segments can be found on a primitive insect?
• What are the main tagmata of an insect?
• Are there spiracle on a) head?, b) thorax?
• How manyy ocelli are present
p on an insect?
• What is the function of antennae?
• Why are they modifications of insect legs?
• What are the two major groups of insect mouthparts?
• What are the major functions of an insect head and how do these
compare with those of other animal heads?
• Name the major appendages associated with the insect head?
• What is the major function of insect thorax?
• How many segments make up the thoracic region, 20, 11, 9 or 3?
• Are wings found on all stages and all insects?
• What is an ovipositor?