Exoskeleton

Svend O. Andersen

Copenhagen University

The exoskeleton is noncellular material that is located on top of the epidermal cell layer and constitutes the outermost part of the integument. The local properties and appearance of the exoskeleton are highly variable, and nearly all visible features of an insect result from the exoskeleton. The exoskeleton serves as a barrier between the interior of the insect and the environment, preventing desiccation and the penetration of microorganisms. Muscles governing the insect's movements are attached to the exoskeleton.

Although the exoskeleton is a continuous structure, its mechanical properties differ from region to region. Sometimes the transition between regions is gradual, but often it is quite abrupt; pliant and elastic regions can thus border on hard and heavily sclerotized regions. Most exoskeletal regions of soft-bodied larvae, such as larvae of moths and flies, are soft

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