Types Of Mouth Parts In Insects-1 Homework Help

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Types Of Mouth Parts In Insects-I

Insects feed on animals and plants in a diversity of ways and their mouthparts have become modified for these purposes. The mouthparts are essentially the paired appendages of the mandibles and the maxillary and labial segments of the head. These have evolved into a variety of forms, which have been perfected to meet different kinds of highly specialized feeding habits. The important types of insect mouthparts can be described as follows.

  • Biting and chewing type: The biting-chewing mouthparts represent the most primitive and unspecialized type which appeared in the early insects in the course of evolution. These consist of the labrum or the upper lip, a pair of mandibles, the paired maxillae (first maxillae), the labium (second maxillae) or lower lip, the epipharynx and the hypopharynx.

    The maxillary palps act as sensory to locate the food. The lacinia are often employed for grasping the food and cutting or chewing it. The mandibles, worked by two sets of muscles, masticate the food with their tooth-like processes. The ligula formed by the paired glossae and paraglossae, help in pushing the food into the pharynx.

    The biting and chewing types of mouthparts are common among Orthopteran insects such as grasshoppers, cockroaches and crickets. They also occur in silverfish (Lepisma), earwigs, termites, book-lice, bird-lice, beetles, some Hymenoptera and many larval forms, specially the caterpillars of Lepidoptera.

  • Piercing and sucking type: The piercing-sucking mouthparts are found in blood sucking insects like the mosquitoes, the bugs such as bedbug and kissing bug, and the herbivorous insects such as aphids, which feed on plant juices. In this type the mandibles and maxillae resemble fine needles, meant for piercing the skin or plant tissues. The labium forms the hollow grooved channel which encloses these needles. The open part of the groove is covered by the labrum. The hypopharynx when present is hollow and needle-like, through which flows the saliva.

    In mosquito, the mouthparts consist of a long proboscis or beak, which is composed of the labium, forming an elongate, fleshy and mid-dorsally grooved tube. It encloses the needle-like stylets formed by the modifications of the mandibles, maxillae and hypopharynx. The needle-like labrum is fused with the epipharynx and forms the long covering of the open groove of proboscis. The proboscis bears at its tip, two small labellae, which used as feelers and enable the mosquito to select the appropriate part of its victim to attack. These mouthparts are well developed in female mosquitoes as they feed on blood.

    In bedbug the labium forms a three jointed proboscis. The stylets are four in number, consisting of two mandibles and two maxillae, the former with blade-like and the later with saw-like tips. The labrum is a flap-like structure, covering the groove of proboscis at the base only. Of the four stylets the maxillae are doubly grooved on their inner faces, one acting as a food canal for the flow of blood and the other as a salivary canal for the flow of saliva.

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