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Thysanura (Silverfish)

I. Background information

A. Origin of name

  1. thysan, bristle; ura, tail
  2. Refers to fringe on cerci and caudal filament

B. Classification

  1. Suborders - None
  2. America north of Mexico - 3 families, 10 genera, 30 species
  3. World - 5 families, 60 genera, 320 species
  4. Estimate of undescribe species - 40%

C. Common names - Siverfish

D. Type of metamorphosis - Simple

E. Phylogenetic relationships

  1. Ectognathus
  2. Styli present
  3. No pleural sutures - i.e., no episternum or epimeron

II. Morphological characteristics

A. Short styli on abdominal segments 2-7

B. Two cerci and a median caudal filament

C. Compound eyes small or absent

D. Somewhat flattened

E. Antennae present

F. Wingless

III. Biological summary for the order

A. Life history

  1. Eggs - Scattered singly and often disguised with bits of plants or soil.
  2. Nymphs
  3. Adults
  4. Some known to be parthenogenetic.

B. Habitat

  1. Under bark, leaf litter
  2. Some species inhabit caves
  3. Others found in ant and termite nests (vegetable feeders)
  4. High humidity

C. Habits (mode of existence)

  1. Common species in domestic situations feeds on starchy materials (e.g., wall paper glue, book bindings, and photographs).
  2. Vegetable feeders

D. Collecting and preserving

  1. Berlese funnel leaf litter.
  2. 80% alcohol
  3. Keep in alcohol, do not mount on slides.

F. Behavior

  1. Ability to jump
  2. Primarily nocturnal
  3. Eyes glow at night when illuminated

G. Significance

  1. Economic - Domestic and library problem when feeding on starchy materials (e.g., wall paper and book bindings) - Lepisma saccharina Linneaus
  2. Ecological

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