Petrobius brevistylis


Physical characteristics: The body is as long as 0.43 inches (11 millimeters), not including the antennae and tails. Each of these structures is nearly as long as the body. They are covered with silvery gray scales, mixed with scattered patches of black scales. The antennae are completely covered with dark scales.

Geographic range: The species is originally from northern Europe and has since become established in northeastern North America.

Habitat: This bristletail is most common above the high-tide line along rocky seacoasts, living among cliffs and boulders. They prefer steep surfaces with few cracks and little loose sand. They also are found on buildings in northern Europe.

Diet: This species grazes on algae, lichens, and mosses growing on rocks.

Petrobius brevistylis graze on algae, lichens, and mosses growing on rocks. (Illustration by Jonathan Higgins. Reproduced by permission.)

Behavior and reproduction: Individuals forage, or search, for food on the surfaces of cliffs and among boulders. They hide in cracks among the rocks or under stones.

During courtship, bristletails have very little contact. Males deposit sperm directly into the female's body. In some populations there may be very few males or no males at all, and the females can reproduce without mating. The eggs are soft and are squeezed into cracks in the rocks. After hatching, the larvae (LAR-vee), or young, take about three or four months to reach adulthood. Adults may live up to three years.

Petrobius brevistylis and people: Bristletails do not directly affect people or their activities.

Conservation status: This species is not threatened or endangered. ■


Web sites:

"Archaeognatha, Bristletails." Tree of Life Web Project. http://tolweb .org/tree?group=Archaeognatha&contgroup;=Insecta%20> (accessed on September 2, 2004).

"Insects and Their Allies: Archaeognatha: Bristletails." CSIRO Entomology. (accessed on September 2, 2004).

"Jumping Bristletails." Petrobius.html (accessed on September 2, 2004).

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