Typical Insect Eggs

Typical insect eggs contain nutrients to support embryogenesis and produce newly emerged first instars. Most eggs contain large amounts of lipid, for use as building material and energy, and yolk proteins, for the amino acids needed to build a larval insect body. Eggs also contain a cytoplasmic "starter kit" for development that includes cellular machinery such as ribosomes. In species with symbiotic bacteria or protists, eggs are inoculated with a small population of the mutualistic microbes.

Insects typically have internal fertilization, and fertilized eggs contain one set of chromosomes from each parent. Eggs are laid in protected places in environments where young are likely to find food. For example, many butterflies lay their eggs on larval food plants, mosquitoes lay their eggs in water in which larval food grows, and parasitoids lay eggs in, on, or near a host insect. Because mature eggs are usually covered by a thin shell, there must be a way for sperm to penetrate the shell before it is laid, and a way to accommodate water balance and respiratory needs afterward. Sperm enter through an opening called the micropyle. Water and air can pass through specialized regions of the eggshell and embryonic membranes. Finally, some insect groups, remarkably, produce offspring without sperm, egg nutrients, or both.

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