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). Here we see a V instar Blattella germanica larva molting into a VI instar nymphal female.
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 almost deflated.
Ecdysis + 35.5 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.
Ecdysis + 11 hrs.
Now over night the VI nymphal female is darkened as much as it will
and has not as yet started eating
to fill in the new
This hardened and darkened VI instar female can be stored at 15°C for up to a month and then started on its metamorphic molt to an adult frmale by placing it at 30°C with food (Kunkel, 1966).
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