Insects have a large ratio of surface area to volume because of their small size; thus, they face the potential for desiccation in the terrestrial environment. Nonetheless, they constitute over half of identified species and their success on land can be attributed, in part, to adaptations that limit water loss and allow for effective gains of water from food, fluids or atmospheric water vapour. Reduction of water loss from the gut involves sophisticated mechanisms of ion recycling and water recovery by epithelia of the Malpighian tubules and hindgut. Water loss across the body surface is greatly reduced by the evolution of very thin but highly impermeable lipid-rich layers in the epicuticle. Respiratory water loss can be reduced through effective spiracular control mechanisms and by mechanisms for convective rather than diffusive gas exchange. In addition to extracting water from food sources, some insects are capable of absorption of atmospheric water vapour through processes that have evolved independently in multiple groups.

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