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THYSANURA

Thysanura silverfish

Silverfish

Thysanura is an order of small, primitive, wingless insects known as silverfish or bristletails. They can be found all over the world, living in a variety of habitats such as forests, fields, and homes. With fossil evidence reaching back more than 400 million years, thysanurans are regarded to be one of the most basic insect groups.

The body of a Thysanuran is long and slender, with a distinctive “fish-like” appearance. Their abdomen is long and tapered, covered in small scales or bristles, and their antennae are long and thread-like. Thysanurans are typically grey or silver in colour, with some species having mottled or striped patterns.

Thysanurans are distinguished by their three long tail-like appendages, known as “cerci,” which extend from the tip of the abdomen. These cerci serve a number of functions, including balance, communication, and defence. Thysanurans are also known for their quick and easy movement, which has a distinct undulating motion.

Silverfish are classified into two groups: those with fine, loose silver-like scales and those without scales but covered in fine hairs. Despite the fact that the group has been divided into four divisions, there are few species described; they prefer warm, dry, and dark environments.

There are several species of Thysanura found in Australia, including:

Lepismatidae – The family Lepismatidae includes two Australian species: Thermobia domestica, also known as the “firebrat,” and Lepisma saccharina, also known as the “silverfish.” Both species are pests that live in homes and other structures and feed on paper, fabric, and other organic materials.

Nicoletiidae – The Nicoletiidae family includes several species found in Australia, including Nicoletia phytophila, also known as the “pygmy silverfish.” This species feeds on fungi and other organic matter in forest litter and other organic debris.

Ateluridae – The family Ateluridae includes two Australian species: Atelura formicaria and Atelura trinervata. These species are commonly referred to as “bristletails” and can be found in a variety of habitats such as forests, deserts, and alpine areas.

Machilidae – The family Machilidae includes several Australian species, including Machilis horridus and Trigoniophthalmus alternatus. These species, also known as “jumping bristletails,” live in leaf litter and other organic debris and feed on fungi and other organic matter.

The Common European Silver-fish has delicate lead-colored scales that give it a dull metallic lustre. They are a major nuisance in libraries, where they eat the glaze on papers or clothbound books, pasted labels, and even the surface of etchings and engravings. Thysanurans are nocturnal creatures that are frequently discovered hidden in dank, dark places like kitchens, baths, and basements. They are omnivorous, eating a wide range of organic materials such as paper, glue, and human food. They are also known to eat dead insects and other tiny arthropods.

Thysanurans are not considered pests, but they can be bothersome when they infest homes and other structures. Although they are not dangerous to humans, their feeding habits can damage books, papers, and other organic materials. Thysanurans are also known to cause allergies in some people because their shed scales and excrement can become airborne and cause allergic reactions.

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