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Morphology of a Cockroach

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Morphology of a Cockroach - Lesson Summary

Cockroaches are usually brown or black. A common species, Periplaneta  americana measures 3.4 to 5.3 centimeters in length. The adult male of this species has wings extending beyond its abdomen. The body of a cockroach is dorso-ventrally flattened and is covered in a hard, brown chitinous exoskeleton. The entire body is segmented and divisible into the head, thorax and abdomen. In each segment, the exoskeleton has sclerites, which are joined to each other by a thin, flexible, articular membrane called the arthrodial membrane. The sclerites on the dorsal side are called tergites and on the ventral side they are called sternites.
 
The head of a cockroach is attached to neck. The head is formed by the fusion of six segments and is covered by a number of plates which constitute the head capsule. It bears a pair of long, slender antennae which help monitor the surroundings with sensory receptors. The anterior end of the head bears mouth parts, which are of biting and chewing type. The mouth parts consist of an upper lip, a pair of mandibles and maxillae, and a lower lip. Cockroaches have a hypopharynx, which acts as a tongue and lies in front of the labium.
 
Thorax consists of three segments –prothorax, mesothorax and metathorax. Each thoracic segment bears a pair of long, jointed legs. Moreover, the mesothorax and metathorax bear a pair of wings. The mesothoracic wings or the forewings. These wings are dark, opaque and leathery, and cover the hind wings at rest while the hind wings are thin, transparent and membranous, and are used in flight.
 
Abdomen consists of 10 segments. Although the male and female cockroaches have an equal number of abdominal segments, the female’s abdomen is broader than that of the male. In females, the seventh sternum is boat-shaped and together with the eighth and ninth sterna, forms a genital pouch, which contains the female gonopore, spermathecal pores and collateral glands. In males, the genital pouch lies towards the end of the abdomen and contains the dorsal anus, the ventral male genital pore and the gonapophysis. The tenth segment of both male and female cockroaches bears a pair of jointed, filamentous anal cerci that function as sense organs. Additionally, male cockroaches bear a pair of short anal styles, which are absent in females. These features help distinguish between a male and a female cockroach. 

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