The insect tracheal system is an air-filled branching network of internal tubing that functions to exchange respiratory gases between the tissues and the environment. The light and electron-micrographs presented in this study show tracheae in the process of moulting, captured from the metathoracic hopping femur of a juvenile third instar locust (Locusta migratoria). The images provide evidence for the detachment of the cuticular intima from the tracheal epithelial cells, the presence of moulting fluid between the new and old cuticle layers, and the withdrawal of the shed cuticular lining through larger upstream regions of the tracheal system during moulting. The micrographs also reveal that the cuticular intima of the fine terminal branches of the tracheal system is cast at ecdysis. Therefore, the hypothesis that tracheoles retain their cuticle lining at each moult may not apply to all insect species or developmental stages.
- Electron microscopy