The role of the foregut (crop and proventriculus) in mechanical processing of food has received little attention in insects. Using the Australian plague locust (Chortoicetes terminifera) and the black field cricket (Teleogryllus commodus) as models, the role of the crop in processing of wheat or rye grass was examined. Interior cuticular structures (spines) of the foregut were described using light and scanning electron microscopy, with locusts having sclerotised structures and crops of crickets being unsclerotised internally. Muscular bands on the exterior surface of the crop part of the foregut are similar in males of both species, but contractions and movements are more forceful in locusts. Passage rate from the foregut is much faster in locusts (<3 h) than in crickets (>3 h). Water within the crop is reduced compared with the water content of fresh grass within the foregut of locusts, but water is increased in cricket crops. Spines within the crops are small relative to the size of food particles in both species. Some spines of locusts contain metals. The slower passage rate from the crop of crickets may be limited by the proventriculus. Foregut structure and food processing facilitates the generalist diet of crickets, but may restrict locusts to consuming softer grasses.
Australian Journal of Zoology – CSIRO Publishing
Published: Aug 26, 2021