- University of Guelph
- NC State University
- Lucid via Discover Life
Proturans are rare, small creatures. They undergo anamorphosis, in which they add segments
posteriorly during development. No other insects undergo this type of metamorphosis. They are
found in most areas around the world, residing in damp, dark habitats and feeding on decaying
matter and other insects. Another unique feature is the telson tail, which is common in crustaceans
but absent in other insects. The telson tail is used for locomotion and for defense.
Proturans are small in size, less than two millimeters long. They have a delicate and
elongate body without pigment. the head is conically-shaped. The eyes and antennae are absent,
but there is a pseudoculus (sensory organ) found on the head. The mouthparts are entognathous
(exposed) and the mandibles and maxillae are slender. The adult abdomen has twelve segments. The
front legs serve as the antennae. The forelegs are enlarged with many sensillae. The legs are made
up of five segments. The gonopore is located between segments 11 and 12. The anus is terminal. They
lack cerci. (Gullan and Cranston, 2000).
- Suborder Eosentomoidea
- Family Eosentomidae
- Genus Eosentomon- 14 Species
- Suborder Acerentomoidea
- Family Protentomidae
- Genus Hesperentomon- 5 Species
- Genus Proturentomon- 4 Species
- Genus Protentomon- 6 Species
- Family Acerentomidae
- Genus Acerentulus- 17 Species
- Genus Maderentulus- 1 Species
- Genus Gracilentulus- 2 Species
- Genus Berberentulus- 3 Species
- Genus Tuxenidia- 1 Species
- Genus Acerella- 3 Species
- Genus Acerentomon- 25 Species
- Genus Tasmanentulus- 1 Species
- Genus Yinentulus- 1 Species
- Genus Kenyentulus- 1 Species
"Protura" comes from Greek words "proto-", meaning first, and "-ura", meaning tail.
This refers to the absence of advanced structures in the tail end of the abdomen.
Synonym: Myrientomata (Gillott, 1980) Common Names: Proturans, Telson Tails (Wooten, 1984)
N.C. State University Entomology Dept.
Proturans are found all over the world, with the exception of arctic and Antarctic areas.
They probably originated in moist, warm areas and later spread throughout the world.
Evolution and distribution of Protura have been very slow processes. (Tuxen, 1985)
There are four families and approximately 500 species worldwide. In North America, there are three families and 20 species.
|Number of Families
|Number of Species
Proturans hatch as prelarva and are probably immobile. The prelarva has nine segments and
underdeveloped mouthparts. There are three stages: protonymph, deutonymph, and tritonymph. The
protonymph has nine segments and developed mouth and legs. The deutonymph has ten segments. The
tritonymph has eleven segments, lesser setae and no external genitalia. Development occurs in soil
or decaying wood. Immature Protura feed on mycorrhyza, moss and litter. (Tuxen, 1985)
The adult has 12 segments. The ideal habitat for Proturans is old leaf mold along the edge of woods.
Adults feed on decaying matter, and may be found inhabiting with the nymphs for most of the year. (Ross, 1982)
Some adults feed another insects by capturing prey with sharp claws and sucking out the insides. The telson
(tail) may be used for locomotion but also has been used for defense. Proturans have been observed to curve
the tail over the head and discharging a sticky secretion on enemies (Wooten, 1984).
Suring mating, the male deposits spermatophores. An unattended female collects the sperm. This is indirect fertilization.
(Gullan and Cranston, 2000)>
How to encounter|
Proturans can be collected by examining leaf mold and drying it. They can be preserved in 70% alcohol and mounted on slides. (Ross, 1982).
Links to other sites|
- Gillott, Cedric. Entomology. 1980: Plerum Press, New York.
- Gullan, P.J. and P.S. Cranston. The Insects: An Outline of Entomology: Second Edition.
2000: Blackwell Science Unlimited.
- Nosek, Josef. The European Protura. 1973: Museum D¹Histoire Naturelle, Geneve.
- Ross, Herbert H., Charles A. and June R.P A Textbook of Entomology: Fourth Edition.
1982: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
- Tuxen, S.L. Fauna of New Zealand: Protura. 1985: Science Information Publishing Centre, New Zealand.
- Wooten, Anthony. Insects of the World. 1984: Blanford Press, New York.
This page written by Kari McLaughlin, Ecology major, University of Georgia, Athens.
Thanks to Sabina Gupta, Denise Lim, and Dr. John Pickering for technical and web support in developing this page.
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Following modified from University of Guelph
Class and Order - DIPLURA & PROTURA
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.
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Following modified from NC State University
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Updated: 2018-10-22 03:07:24 gmt