3.5.3. Dissection of the fertile queen from the ventral aspect

This more difficult operation will demonstrate that part of the reproductive tract which was concealed by the sting apparatus in the preceding dissection. This part of the tract, including the median oviduct, vagina, and bursa, together with the sting apparatus which lies above them, are firmly attached to the floor of the abdomen, from which they can be detached only by careful, patient use of the point of the knife.

1. Mount the insect with the ventral surface upwards.

2. Cut away the floor of the abdomen using scissors, starting at the anterior end, and working backwards, removing the sternites until the lateral oviducts are uncovered.

3. Continue cutting through the body wall at the extreme sides of the abdomen, towards the tip.

4. Grip the floor with forceps, at the forward edge.

5. Insert the point of the knife and very carefully separate the sternites from the soft parts beneath them.

6. Remove the floor piecemeal, as it becomes possible to cut away parts of it to facilitate the work.

When the dissection is finished, it will be possible easily to identify the bursa and lateral pouches; the latter, in this position of the queen, are uppermost. The remaining structures are more difficult to identify, but will become clearer after soaking in glycerol.