Order Diplura: The Bristletails

Now that we are done with springtails, we may now focus on its relative insect: the bristletails.

Diplura Biology

Bristletails are scientifically called Diplurans, getting their name from the order they originated, Order Diplura. The etymology of their name came from the word diplos and uros, which means two-tailed. This type of insect belongs to the hexapod group or insects with six feet (hexapoda means six legs in Greek). They too, like springtails, have ten segmented bead-like body structure including its head. But if you think that their close taxonomical relationship to springtails makes them physically similar to the latter, you are mistaken.

These insects are considered as one of the most primitive type of its kind. Among all the insects in their group, they have characteristics which made them earn such title. One of which is the presence of not just one, but two tails in the posterior region of their bodies, as stated earlier. What is more interesting about these tails is that they are not just vestigial parts- studies show that these are additional receptors which senses the presence of other life forms, and more importantly, their prey.

Diplura Characteristics

It is important to emphasize that one of the reasons why they are considered as primitive because of the absence of their eyes. Normally, the insects we spot around us have a minimum of two eyes which are usually bigger than their whole body. However, Diplurans are different. They rely on the photoreceptors which lie on the first layer of their skin. These make them more light sensitive than other insects.

When we speak of primordial characteristics, we never forget about the ability of regenerating or regeneration. Like starfishes and other life forms which started their own branch on the taxonomical tree, diplurans also have the capability of doing such thing. Regeneration is the ability of one’s body to grow the parts of their body which they lost either accidentally or by molting. In Diplurans, regeneration occurs whenever they molt. As their ‘old skin’ wears off, they grow their lost parts.

Because of their small size (2-5 mm in length), we can never really tell if there are any diplurans crawling under our feet. Their kind feed on dead matter and prey on animal carcasses, and there is no records which show that they have harmed human beings in any way possible. So fear not, human beings! Diplurans are here to breakdown nitrogen and help decompose living and non-living things, and help us maintain the balance of our ecology.

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