Short Life of an 'Albino' Cockroach
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Photos by Joe Kunkel as part of independent research as an
undergraduate, 1964. This research contributed to his first published
paper (Kunkel, 1966).
During ecdysis (the shedding of an arthropod's old cuticle)
a cockroach's new cuticle
creamy white. This has resulted in many claims by
novices of having discovered an
albino cockroach. But the hour long ecdysial
process ends with the tanning (darkening
of the new cuticle and, sadly, the 'extinction' of the 'albino'
Blattella germanica ecdysis + 0 min. (with reflection in mirror).
The pronotal cuticle has just split under the hydrostatic pressure of
Ecdysis + 1 min.
The larva continues to swallow air to expand out of the old cuticle.
Ecdysis + 3 min.
The legs and antennae are being drawn out of their old cuticular sheaths.
Ecdysis + 8 min.
The legs and antennae are for the first time free. Inflation continues.
Ecdysis + 10 min.
The newly molted larva reaches its new maximum size. It provisionally
hardens itself at this size.
Ecdysis + 17.5 min.
The deflation process is underway. The larva regurgitates the swallowed air
and becomes flatter.
Ecdysis + 19.5 min.
Now quite flat, the larva will procede to harden
and visibly darken this cuticle
starting at 1 hour after the initial split of its pronotal cuticle. In four
hours it will be as dark as it will get and can start eating
to fill in the newly
provided room with growing tissue.
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