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Normally, insects' muscles are attached to their exoskeleton but what happens to this attachment when they are moulting?

Sorry if this is an extremely silly question but I have wondered about it for a long time and have tried searching it.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

You can find a concise answer here in a section from The Insects: Structure and Function by R. F. Chapman, eds. Stephen J. Simpson, Angela E. Douglas. 5th Edition. Cambridge University Press.

In essence the source says that the muscle attachment to the cuticle is maintained during the moulting process, while the new cuticle is formed under the old cuticle.

As a result the insect is able to continue its activities after apolysis during the development of the new cuticle. The connections to the old cuticle are broken at about the time of ecdysis.

Connections to the new cuticle are formed at the same time as the old ones are broken.

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To clarify the issue: muscles do not contact with the cuticle directly. They form junctions with epidermal tendon cells, which pass the tension via microtubules to their outer membrane - to hemidesmosomes. From the side of the cuticle these hemidesmosomes are supported by intracuticular (extracellular) fibres (= tonofibrillae). During pre-molt, when the new cuticle is being synthesized, these fibres run through both the new and the old exoskeleton, thus ensuring maintenance of the mechanical support for muscles: in isopods. – har-wradim Oct 30 '13 at 0:55

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