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Posted by on Jul 22, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

How Do Insects Breathe?

How Do Insects Breathe?

As insect does not have lungs for breathing air, as people do. Instead, an insect breathes through tiny holes called spiracles which run along the sides of its body. (Look carefully along the sides of a large insect. Your magnifying glass may show you a row of tiny holes, like the portholes of a ship. These holes are the spiracles or breathing pores.)

The spiracles lead to little branching tubes that carry oxygen to every part of the insect’s body, even to the legs and wings. Air is pumped in and out by the respiratory movements of the insect’s body.

Many insects living in water (water beetles and true bugs, larvae and pupae of mosquitoes, etc) have to rise to the surface to take in air, i.e. they also have air breathing. Larvae of mosquitoes and some other insects, for the time of renewing the air in the tracheal system, get “hanged” from beneath to the surface of the water with the help of water-resistant hairs.

Water beetles (water scavenger beetles, true water beetles) and true bugs (for example, backswimmers), having breathed at the surface, take on an additional supply of air under their wing covers before they submerge. In larvae of insects living in water, damp soil, tissues of plants, skin breathing plays a big role.

Well-adapted to water life, larvae of mayflies, caddisflies, and other insects have no open spiracles. They take in oxygen through the surface of all parts of the body where the covering is thin enough, especially through the surface of leaf-shaped outgrowths permeated by a network of tracheas. Larvae of the midge Chironomus also have respiration through the skin — through the whole surface of the body.

Content for this question contributed by Gretchen Hartman, resident of Sandpoint, Bonner County, Idaho, USA