Superkingdom Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Superclass Hexapoda
Class Insecta
Subclass Pterygota
Series Neoptera
Order Embioptera, sometimes called Embiidina

Common name(s): embiids, webspinners

Description: Small to medium in size, embiids have elongate and cylindrical bodies. They have prognathous mouthparts. Their compound eyes are kidney-shaped (reniform); ocelli are absent. All females are wingless and apterous. Some males have soft, flexible wings that stiffen for flight with blood veins using haemolymph pressure. Legs are short and the basal fore tarsus (the bottom of the front foot) is swollen with a silk gland. Cerci are two-segmented, and immature (nymph) stages are like small adults.

Fun facts: There are some 200 described species of embiids (perhaps up to an order of magnitude, ~1000 or more, remain unknown) in at least eight families worldwide. Most are tropical.

During copulation, the male holds the female with his mouth and/or his cerci. Eggs and early nymphs are tended by the female. Embiids live gregariously in silken galleries that they spin with their silk glands (which are present in all instars); a female and her brood live in each gallery. Their galleries are built beneath stones, in leaf litter, on tree trunks, or in cracks in bark or soil. They eat litter, moss, bark and dead leaves. The saftey of the gallery is left only by the mature male to disperse, where they mate, do not feed, and are sometimes cannibalized by females.

Embioptera have a general morphological resemblance to Plecoptera, but molecular evidence suggests that they are related to Orthoptera and Phasmatodea; they also have some similarity to the Dermaptera, notably deriving from their prognathy.

sourced, in part, by The Insects: An outline of entomology, second ed. Gullan, P.J. and P.S. Cranston. Blackwell Science, Great Britain, 2000.

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