Measurements of electrical resistance appear to be useful indicators of porosity and related water permeability in insect cuticle. To develop an adequate understanding of how such measurements relate to the physical and structural properties of the integument, we made detailed determinations of resistance and impedance values for pronotal cuticle in adult male Periplaneta americana. The most consistent estimates were obtained by averaging measurements across the integument on both sides of the midline at several intervals starting 15 min after electrode application. Pronotal resistance varied inversely with water content, from about 10 k omega cm2 in hydrated cockroaches to about 40 k omega cm2 in dehydrated insects. Though the dermal gland canals appear to act as the main conductive pathway across the cuticle, the variable 'barrier' is located in the epidermal layer, since removal of the epidermis from isolated pronota also removes most of the variable component of the integumental resistance. Comparison of measurements between two external electrodes with single-electrode measurements revealed a 'shunt' pathway parallel to the cuticle surface; modelling this shunt suggested that it was variable and located mostly internal to the cuticle, supporting an epidermal location for a variable barrier. Impedance measurements over a range of frequencies showed the integument to be electrically complex, and a model is proposed to account for its properties.

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