Insects of Britain and Ireland: orders

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz



Adult insects. Predatory, phytophagous, saprophagous, consuming stored produce, and mycophagous. Small to medium sized; with hardened ‘elytra’ (q.v.), representing the fore-wings; capable of flight; with one pair of propellant wings (the hindwings). Body dorsiventrally flattened. Head prognathous. Mouthparts well developed; of the biting type; not piercing; more or less conforming to the generalized biting type (the mandibles usually with two apical teeth, and parts of the maxillae much divided). Antennae conspicuous; simple; 15–35 segmented (‘many-segmented’). Ocelli 0. Wings four; markedly differently textured in the two pairs. Fore-wings leathery (comprising short elytra). Hind-wings larger than the fore-wings (when opened); much markedly broader than the fore-wings; folded in repose (folding under the small elytra). Wings with few cross-veins; more or less naked. Wings of the resting insect closed and directed backwards. Tarsi 3 segmented. Abdomen conspicuously appendaged at the rear; furnished with very large, paired, pincer-like appendages; with cerci clearly visible at its tip (represented by the much enlarged, characteristic ‘pincers’, which are sometimes used to capture prey); apparently 10 segmented (males), or 8 segmented (females, where terga and sterna of 8 and 9 are reduced, and fused to tergum 10).

Larvae. Larvae with three pairs of segmented thoracic legs; without ventral abdominal prolegs. Development of larva into adult gradual; exopterygote; not involving a pupal stage.

Classification. Subclass Pterygota; Division Exopterygota.

British representation. Anisolabidae, Forficulidae, Labiduridae, Labiidae; genera 7 (Anisolabis (casually introduced), Apterigida, Euborellia, Forficula, Labia, Labidura, Marava); 8 species.

General comments. The hind-wings are characteristically rounded, with with radiate venation. The eggs are deposited in the soil in a group, and the female sits over them and guards them and the newly hatched young until they can look after themselves, gathering them together again if they become separated.

Illustrations. • Apterygia, Euborellia, Forficula, Morava (Lucas). • The British Earwigs (Burr). • Forficula auricularia, as F. borealis (Northern Earwig). B. Ent 560. • F. auricularia, as F. borealis (detail). B. Ent 560. • <@subject Forficula auricularia, as F. borealis (detail). B. Ent 560> : B. Ent 560). • Forficula auricularia, and forceps of other Forficulidae: Stephens VI, 1835. • Labidura riparia (Lucas). • Earwig, adult (left) and larva (Lubbock 1890).

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: orders. Version: 16th May 2016.’.