Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Molt in Progress
There is something to be said for "being at the right place at the right time". I came across this scene one evening last August. This differential grasshopper was attached to the leaf of a milkweed plant. I was fortunate enough to see this transformation from beginning to end. It took about 45 minutes for it to complete the molt (instar) and another hour before he had pumped enough fluids into his wings and could jump away. I can see why this would be a very vulnerable period for an insect. They are helpless against the need to lose a skin they have outgrown. The process is not a fast one, and as they go through the grueling process they are unable to retreat, or use any other defense that would normally be at their disposal. I'm sure many insects are sacrificed during a molting period. If you look at the pictures closely you can see just how small the shed skin is in comparison to how large the grasshopper looks. As he was slowly relieving himself of his skin he was pumping fluids into his body and that was making him larger. No need for steroids when you are an insect.