BRITSTLETAILS, SILVERFISH AND FIREBRATS (THYSANURA) OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
R. A. Cannings and G. G. E. Scudder
Copyright © 2006 - All rights reserved
The body is elongate, up to about 13 mm long, wingless, frequently scaled, and similar in general to that of the jumping bristletails. However, the Thysanura differs from the Archeognatha in several distinctive ways. The body is broader and flattened; the eyes are small and separated, or lacking, and there are no ocelli. As in all other true insects, the mandibles are joined to the head at two points. There are 2 to 4 tarsal segments, no coxal styli and the number of abdominal styli is often reduced, many species having styli on segments 7 to 9 only.
Mating includes fascinating courtship displays similar to those in the Archeognatha. After much dancing and shuffling, abdomen drumming, and antennae tapping, the male extrudes a silk thread, glues one end to the ground and deposits sperm packet on the ground nearby. The thread guides the female to the sperm, which she picks up in her genitalia.
Four families and about 250 species of bristletails live throughout the world. Only the Lepismatidae, containing two alien species that live in human habitations, occurs in British Columbia. Most bristletails are not associated with humans and live under bark and stones, in forest litter and in ant and termite nests, in caves and burrows and other hidden places.
Ferguson, L.M. 1990. Insecta: Microcoryphia and Thysanura. Pp 935-949 (in) D.L. Dindale (Ed.). Soil Biology Guide. John Wiley and Sons, New York.
This write up is extracted from the forthcoming publication by Scudder and Cannings: the Insect Families of British Columbia.
Illustrations by L. L. Lucas. Copyright © 2005 - All rights reserved