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Insect Identification Key
Order Microcoryphia: the jumping bristletails

Arched thorax
Notice the humped back due to the arched thorax on this member of the family Machilidae of the order Microcoryphia. If this photo were taken from above, you would be able to see that its large compound eyes abut one another. Photo credit: Stemonitis.

Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your insect as being in the order Microcoryphia!

Members of this order include: jumping bristletails.

Etymology: Microcoryphia comes from the Greek words micros, which means small and corypha which means head. This refers to a jumping bristletail’s small head.

General characteristics:
• wingless
• two large compound eyes that abut one another, and three simple eyes (called ocelli)
• numerous paired appendages (called styli) along the abdomen
• three tail-like appendages, including two short cerci and one longer caudal filament between them; the caudal filament is typically at least twice as long as the cerci
chewing mouthparts
• a humpbacked appearance due to an arched thorax
• a pair of long, threadlike, multisegmented antennae
• ability to jump, which is accomplished by snapping the abdomen against the ground
direct development (nymphs and adults nearly indistinguishable)

Number of species worldwide: about 350

Classification:

Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Class Insecta
         Order Microcoryphia (sometimes called order Archaeognatha)

For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.

Classification note: The order Microcoryphia is sometimes known by the alternate name of Archaeognatha. This insects within this order were once classified under the order Thysanura. To make things even more complicated, the order Thysanura is now known as Zygentoma!

Oops! If this doesn't appear to be the order for your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!

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Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz, DailyGraceCards.com; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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