Tracheal volume in the pupa of the Saturniid moth Hyalophora cecropia determined with inert gases

Respir Physiol. 1980 Jun;40(3):281-91. doi: 10.1016/0034-5687(80)90029-8.


Tracheal volume (VTr) was measured in pupae of the Giant silkworm moth Hyalophora cecropia (Saturniidae, Lepidoptera, Insecta) using inert gas wash-out techniques. The animal was placed in a small vessel that was continuously ventilated (rate, V) by a gas mixture containing 20% O2 in N2; the inflowing (F1) and outflowing gas fractions (FE) of the vessel could be continuously measured by a respiratory mass spectrometer. At the onset of a spiracular constriction period, which was evidenced from the FECO2 trace, the mixture was rapidly replaced by pure Ar. At the subsequent burst, the amount of N2 emerging from the animal, MN2, was calculated from V and the difference (FE--F1)N2. VTr was calculated from MN2 and the N2 concentration in the tracheal system before constriction (assumed to equal that in the ventilating gas before replacement by Ar). Measurements were repeated with N2 and Ar replacing each other. VTr average 48 microliter . g-1 (range 39 to 59) for animals of 5.8 g average body weight (range 3.4 to 9.9), when inert gas solubility in body fluids was accounted for. Both size and stage in pupal development appear to affect VTr. These values show reasonable agreement with literature data, mostly obtained by emptying the tracheal gas space by mechanical compression.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bombyx / physiology*
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Noble Gases
  • Respiration
  • Solubility


  • Noble Gases
  • Carbon Dioxide