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"Derivation of name: diploos - double, oura - tail, referring to the two prominent cerci:"-- (Tree of Life)

"Among the derived features of diplurans are:

  • eyeless
  • tentorium absent
  • unique muscles and pivots in legs

Other characteristics:

  • mostly white
  • two prominent cerci, either long and filiform or short and forcep-like
  • long, slender antennae"-- (Tree of Life)


Taxonomic Category Scientific Name Common Name
Phylum Arthropoda Arthropods
Class Insecta Insects
Order Diplura Dipluran

Geographic distribution
"Common in grassy or wooded habitats worldwide, but seldom seen because of their small size and reclusive habits.
N.C. State University Entomology Dept.

North America Worldwide
Number of Families 5 7
Number of Species 64 ~800

Natural history
"Diplura are tiny, cryptozoic animals that live in moist soil, leaf litter, or humus. They have small, eversible vesicles on the ventral side of most abdominal segments that seem to help regulate the body's water balance, perhaps by absorbing moisture from the environment."

"Most Diplura are predators; their diet probably includes a wide variety of other soil-dwellers, including collembola, mites, symphyla, insect larvae, and even other diplurans. They may also survive on vegetable debris and fungal mycelia, but most species seem to prefer animal prey.

Economic Importance:

    "Diplurans are common inhabitants of forest leaf litter. They are part of the community of decomposers that help break down and recycle organic nutrients. None of the Diplura are considered pests."


    "The sexes are separate and fertilization is external. Males produce sperm packets (spermatophores) and glue them to the substrate on the end of little stalks. Females use their genital opening to gather spermatophores and then lay their eggs on little stalks inside a crevice or small cavity in the ground."

    "Male Diplura produce large numbers of spermatophores -- up to 200 per week. This large number is probably necessary because sperm only remain viable in the spermatophore for about two days."

    "The cerci of some diplurans are designed to break off near the base if they are mishandled. This spontaneous autotomy is probably an adaptation for avoiding predation. A similar adaptation is found in the legs of some walkingsticks and the tails of some lizards."-- ( N.C. State University Entomology Dept.)

How to encounter
"Common in grassy or wooded habitats worldwide, but seldom seen because of their small size and reclusive habits."-- (N.C. State University Entomology Dept.)

Links to other sites

This page written by Sharmeen Hossain, Ecology major, University of Georgia, Athens

Thanks to Sabina Gupta, Denise Lim, and Dr. John Pickering for technical support in developing this page.

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Following modified from Insect Collection, University of Guelph
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Class and Order - DIPLURA & PROTURA
(Greek, diploos = two; oura = tail)
Common Names: none
Distribution: Cosmopolitan

The Diplura and Protura are primitively wingless orders (not descended from winged ancestors). Protura, which lack antennae and cerci, are tiny and rarely noticed (so I have no photographs to include here!). Diplura can be found under rocks and logs or in the soil, and are small, eyeless insects with two antennae and two tails (cerci). The most common diplurans are elongate, white Campodeidae with long cerci. The somewhat earwig-like Japygidae have forceps-like cerci.

Following served from NC State College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
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Updated: 2018-08-17 03:23:28 gmt
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