Ontogenesis of peripheral electromagnetic receptors in hornets

Jacob S. Ishay*, Vitaly Pertsis, Ehud Skutelsky, Dharamdajal Kalicharan, Hans Van Der Want

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article traces the ontogenesis of peripheral electromagnetic receptors (PER) in the cuticle of the Oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis). In the abdominal cuticle of adult hornets, the PERs are densely distributed throughout, but there are even more than 30 at the margins of the segments. These organelles develop as a network in the hornet cuticle immediately upon its completion. Briefly, from each basic cell of a PER grows a bulge towards the exterior, that is, towards the illuminated region of the cuticle. This bulge develops rapidly and as it grows it starts to push out and lift up the various layers of the cuticle, the while pressing them together. By a spiraling movement, the bulge insinuates itself between the layers, whereupon it dissolves and punctures its way through all the layers of the hypocuticle, via the endocuticle up to the exocuticle. The only cuticular layer that remains intact is the epicuticle, but even that undergoes change, assuming the shape of a smooth surface with a depression at its center. The indented part in the epicuticle is circular, ∼2.5 μm in diameter and enables the entry of radiation (illumination) from the outside into the PER, which is located half-way down the cuticle, with the distance from the exterior to the base of the PER being ∼25 μm. The numerous lamellae of the cuticle run parallel to one another, but in the region of the bulge they are either perpendicular or directed upwards. This ontogeny of the PERs lends the cuticle a sandwich-like shape, being radically perforated by the PERs bulges, yet covered at the top by the epicuticle and at the bottom by basal cells. The PERs also extend shoots into the cuticular layer and these further perforate the cuticle but also interlink the various PERs. From all the above, it is clear that the cuticle forms first and only subsequently does the network of PERs develop and interpenetrate its various layers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-291
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Electron Microscopy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


  • Cuticular lysis
  • Lamellar organization
  • Peripheral receptor ontogenesis
  • Sensory organs


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