Bristletails (Order Zygentoma) are a small, primitive type of insect, the order of which includes the household pest, silverfish. Their mouth parts are used for chewing, and they do not sting. True bristletails should not be confused with jumping bristletails, which are in a different order.
A species of bristletail found in California is an example of a living fossil. It is scaleless and nearly identical to fossil specimens.
Bristletails are elongate wingless insects, named for the 3 tail-like appendages at the end of their abdomens. Their bodies are flat and spindle-shaped with overlapping scales. They have long, multi-segmented antennae, and some abdominal segments have styli (finger-like protrusions.) Tarsi have 3-4 segments.
Bristletails have either small compound eyes and live under rocks, or have larger eyes and are found in leaf litter, debris, or under bark, where there is more light. Bristletails found in houses eat flour, paste, cloth, and paper.
Number of species
There are 40 species found in North America, and 250 worldwide.
There are three families in this order.