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Protura (Telson Tails)

I. Background information

A. Origin of name

  1. Prot, first; ura, tail.
  2. Refers to primitive characters and the unique telson

B. Classification

  1. Suborders - None
  2. America north of Mexico - 3 families, 9 genera, 20 species
  3. World - 4 families, 260 species
  4. Estimate of undescribe species - No estimates.

C. Common names - Telson tails

D. Type of metamorphosis - Simple

  1. Nymphs adding an abdominal segment with each molt; start with 9 and add to 11 plus the telson.
  2. All other insects the only indication of an 11th segment is a dorsal sclerite called and epiproct and two lateral sclerites called paraprocts.

E. Phylogenetic relationships

  1. Entognathous hexapods
  2. Very primitive
  3. Styli on first 3 abdominal segments
  4. Sometimes placed in separate class, Entognatha because of the structure of their heads and mandibles.

II. Morphological characteristics

A. Head conical and eyeless

B. No antennae

C. First pair of legs sensory

D. Styli on first 3 abdominal segments

E. Wingless

III. Biological summary for the order

A. Life history

  1. Eggs - unknown
  2. Nymphs
  3. Adults

B. Habitat

  1. Moist habitats such as mold soil around roots.
  2. Leaf humus, dead leaves, moss, lichens, and from under the bark of rotting logs.
  3. Some collected in subterranean mammal nests.
  4. Apparently always associated with fungi.

C. Habits (mode of existence)

  1. Feed by piercing fungal mycelia and sucking cell contents.
  2. Not well known

D. Collecting and preserving

  1. Berlese funnel from moist humus, bark, rotting wood, decaying vegetation, or debris from under stones.
  2. 80% alcohol
  3. Slide mount

E. Behavior

  1. Mating
  2. Acquiring food

F. Significance - Unknown

Insect Identification and Diagnosis Request

For the identification of insects and mites, contact a local Virginia Cooperative Extension office, or find information about offices in your state.