Control of Spiracles in Silk Moths by Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide

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Science  23 Jun 1967:
Vol. 156, Issue 3782, pp. 1604-1606
DOI: 10.1126/science.156.3782.1604


Spiracles of insects open in high carbon dioxide tensions and close in high oxygen tensions. However, the targets of these gases in insects have never been identified. In diapausing pupae of the cecropia silk moth carbon dioxide acts primarily and directly on the spiracular apparatus itself (muscle or neuromuscular junctions), whereas oxygen has as its primary target the central nervous system. The spiracle behaves as an independent effector in response to carbon dioxide; this is quite different from the situation in vertebrates, where carbon dioxide acts primarily on the central nervous system. The roles of various nerves in controlling spiracular activity are discussed.