Order Thysanura


The bristletails are fast running, wingless insects, up to 1/2 inch long. They have long antennae and two or three long, appendages at the end of the abdomen (cerci). Bristletails have chewing mouthparts and develop without metamorphosis; that is, the young or growing stages closely resemble the adults, except they are smaller. The life stages are egg, young and adult. Most bristletails live out-of-doors under stones and other objects on the ground. However, the two most common species--the silverfish and the firebrat--live in houses where they feed on rayons, starched clothing, book bindings and other materials containing starch or glue.

Return to Insect Orders


Family Machilidae - Bristletails

Machilis variabilis Say.

Size: 3/8 inch (9mm)
Habitat: under stones or loose bark in spring and early summer.

Family Lepismatidae - Silverfish

Ctenolepisma lineata (Fabricius) - the fourlined silverfish

Size: 5/16 inch (8 mm) long
Habitat: common household pest, eats wallpaper paste, sizing from books and paper, common in flourmills and bakeries.

**most of the images included in these pages are from the 'Insects in Kansas' Book. They are freely available for student and noncommercial use (according to their copyright agreement with each photographer) at the PDIS image site, http://www.pdis.org/default.aspx

For additional information on Thysanura, check out the following link: