4.4.1. Dermal detection

In insects able to detect light through their body surface, there are sensory receptors below the body cuticle but no optical system with focusing structures. Evidence for this general responsivity to light comes from the persistence of photic responses after covering all visual organs, for example in cockroaches and lepidopteran larvae. Some blind cave insects, with no recognizable visual organs, respond to light, as do decapitated cockroaches. In most cases the sensitive cells and their connection with the central nervous system have yet to be discovered. However, within the brain itself, aphids have light-sensitive cells that detect changes in day length — an environmental cue that controls the mode of reproduction (i.e. either sexual or parthenogenetic). The setting of the biological clock (Box 4.4) relies upon the ability to detect photoperiod.


  Insect vision


Chapter 4