Harvard University's Caribbean Insects: Thysanura

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The Neuroptera, or net-veined insects, are represented by about 4500 species worldwide, including about 338 in North America. They are soft-bodied insects, and possess two pairs of fairly equal-sized, membranous wings, which are held tent-like over the body when at rest. These wings typically have many cross-veins, giving the order its common name. Mouthparts are mandibulate, and adapted for chewing. Many of these insects are predatory, although other food sources are nectar, honeydew and pollen.

Adults of this order can be found in a variety of terrestrial habitats, including close to water, for those families with aquatic larvae. Development is holometabolous, with the larva looking very different from the adult. The larvae are usually predacious, although Sisyridae larvae feed on freshwater sponges and Mantispidae larvae are parasites on spider eggs. Pupation is terrestrial, and takes place in a silken cocoon produced by the Malpighian tubules of the larva. The larvae molt an average of 3 times, but sometimes as many as 5.


Please browse and download our Field Guides to insect families and see our Caribbean Taxonomic Literature lists for available PDFs.


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