Way To Go

The insect digestive system has three sections: the foregut, midgut, and hindgut. Larvae of this order are unique in that the midgut is not connected to the hindgut. As they feed, their waste is stored in the midgut. They cannot rid their body of waste until they reach adulthood and gain a fully formed digestive system. A lifetime of waste is released as a single pellet as they emerge from the pupa.

the development of the spider eggs to give them plenty of time to feed. Mantidfly larvae are specialists and attack only a single species or several closely related species of spiders.

Only two groups of neuropteran larvae are not predators. Moth lacewings eat sap from the roots of trees and shrubs as they burrow through the soil. It is not known what the larvae of giant lacewings eat, but their mouthparts are blunt and unsuitable for stabbing insect prey.

Many neuropterans use chemicals to communicate with potential mates during courtship. Males have special organs on their abdomen or wings that produce pheromones, chemicals that are attractive to females. Green lacewing males use sound to attract mates, vibrating their abdomens to communicate with females.

Males and females must mate to produce eggs that will develop into larvae. Males deposit sperm directly into the reproductive organs of the female. Mating is either brief or lasts up to several hours. Mating usually occurs when a male and female meet, but swarms of mating moth lacewings have been observed in Australia and the United States.

The life cycle of neuropterans includes four very distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Eggs are laid one at a time or in batches on rocks, bark, or in crevices of bark. Some species of green lacewings, mantidflies, and split-footed lacewings lay a single egg on top of a silk stalk. This keeps them out of the reach of hungry predators, especially other lacewing larvae. There is little or no parental care of the eggs. The larvae look nothing like the adults and do not live in the same habitat. The larvae usually molt, or shed their exoskeletons or hard outer coverings, three times over several months or years before transforming into a pupa. The pupa is formed inside a silk cocoon. Neuropteran larvae produce silk with special organs inside their abdomen. These same organs work like kidneys in other insects, filtering out waste in the blood. The legs and wings of the pupa are not completely attached to the body and the abdomen is capable of some movement.

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