Ecdysis is the process of an arthropod moulting its exoskeleton. Moulting is necessary as the arthropod exoskeleton is inflexible and so, to grow larger, arthropods must moult.
Moulting is a critical but vulnerable time for arthropods. Their existing cuticle weakens at specific points and by taking in water or air the animal splits its old exoskeleton. The animal then extracts itself from the old skin and inflates its new skin. The new exoskeleton is soft and the arthropod can't move because its musculature is attached to this exoskeleton. Once the new exoskeleton has dried and hardened the animal can move again.
A photograph of a recently moulted woodlouse and its moulted cuticle.
Other names for (or types of) Ecdysis include:
- Juvenile hormone
- Wing bud
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