|Description:||Under a low magnification of only 29X, this scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image depicted some of the surface details found on one of the four wings on this unidentified hornet discovered in the suburbs of Decatur, Georgia. In this particular view, you’ll note that the wing’s surface is coated with what appears to be numerous “hairs”, which are known as “setae”. These setae are not keratin-based mammalian hairs, but are composed of chitin, as is its exoskeleton.|
Chitin is a molecule made up of bound units of acetylglucosamine, joined in such a way as to allow for increased points at which hydrogen bonding can occur. In this way chitin provides increased strength, and durability as an exoskeletal foundation. This chitinous exoskeleton gives rise to a myriad of morphologic shapes, including these “scales”, setae, antennae, legs, and mouthparts.
This hornet was a member of the Phylum Arthropoda, i.e., Arthro = jointed, and poda = legs, and the class Insecta, for it possessed three pairs of these jointed extremities. The hair-like setae provided the hornet with data indicative of changes encountered in its environment such as chemical, thermal, and tactile queues.